A team of researchers at Faridabad-based Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB) has initiated a study to engineer virucidal coating to prevent the COVID-19 transmission.
The research team has been led by led by Dr Avinash Bajaj and it is conducted in collaboration with Dr Milan Surjit from Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) and Dr Samrat Mukhopadhay from Department of Textile Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), is an 'Institution established by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, under the auspices of UNESCO.
Dr Bajaj's group has expertise in the engineering of antimicrobial molecules that can target the membranes of microorganisms selectively.
Here, the group will be extending their expertise on developing the molecules that will target the membranes of COVID-19 viral particles selectively.
These molecules will then be used for engineering of different surfaces like glass, plastic and textiles including cotton, nylon, and polyester to provide a virucidal coating that can potentially inhibit the viral transmission.
In another effort to help fight the pandemic, a research group led by professor Deepak T Nair at the centre is trying to find out how to inhibit the activity of a protein called nsp12 protein that houses the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity responsible for the duplication of the RNA genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The group has used computational tools to build a homology model of the three-dimensional structure of the nsp12 protein.
The model was then used to identify possible inhibitors of the nsp12 protein. The studies predict that the methylcobalamin form of Vitamin B12 may bind to the active site of the nsp12 protein and inhibit its activity.
The group is now seeking to carry out further experiments to validate this hypothesis. If found effective, methylcobalamin may be immediately be deployed in the field since it is already a part of many drug formulations.
The group has also initiated efforts to purify the nsp12 protein to develop high throughput plate assays that can be used to identify different inhibitors of the protein.
These inhibitors will serve as lead molecules for the development of novel drugs against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Besides, efforts are underway to identify possible inhibitors of two other proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus using computational tools.
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