The first complete atomic model of a new type of coronavirus

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — American scientists have prepared the first version of a full three-dimensional model of coronavirus. To do this, they calculated the atomic structure of his shell using a supercomputer. The article was published by the scientific journal ACS Central Science.

“These models will help us understand which parts of the coronavirus play an important role in how it penetrates human cells. If we reveal these secrets of SARS-CoV-2, scientists will have a better chance of creating new drugs for COVID-19. Also they’ll be able to understand how existing drugs work,” said Rommie Amaro, a professor at the University of California at San Diego (USA) and one of the authors of the work.

The first data of this kind of biologists from the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (USA) were obtained back in mid-February of this year, when they were able to decipher the exact three-dimensional structure of those envelope proteins of the virus that are directly involved in cell infection.

This important part of the virus, as Amaro notes, makes up only a small part of its protein coat. A single particle SARS-CoV-2, as shown by scientists, consists of about two hundred million atoms. Therefore, the virus is very difficult to study both with the help of particle accelerators, which can receive images with atomic resolution, and with the help of supercomputers that “stitch” these images into a three-dimensional image.

Additional problems, she said, were also caused by the fact that images of all components of the virus envelope were obtained not in one, but in different laboratories and with different resolutions. Therefore, scientists had to spend a lot of time combining data and preparing the first full-fledged model, ready for miscalculation on the Frontera supercomputer.

These calculations, according to Amaro, began about two weeks ago. In the near future, scientists plan to get a full three-dimensional image of how a single viral particle looks and how it is arranged. Similar images and calculation results, scientists hope, will help to understand whether there are other ways of the virus to enter cells, in addition to the ACE2 and CD147 receptors.

About the new coronavirus

Now in the world more than 396 thousand cases of infection with a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) are registered , more than 17 thousand infected have died, more than 103 thousand people have recovered. Outside of China, the disease COVID-19, which causes this virus, was detected in 169 countries, including Russia.

A vaccine for this disease is now being developed in many countries of the world, including Russia. Some scientific groups have already begun to test drugs on animals. However, the exact timing of the appearance of the drug for COVID-19, scientists can not yet say – estimates vary from six months to 2-3 years.

An outbreak of COVID-19 was recorded last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan. In early March, the World Health Organization recognized that the disease had spread around the world, calling the situation a pandemic.


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