<div>Researchers Discover Second 'Key' Used By Coronavirus To Enter Human Cells</div>
Kiuas writes: Researchers from the Technical University of Munich and the University of Helsinki have discovered a second receptor (called neuropilin-1) which is used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter into human cells via the nasal cavity.

The discovery is important as it helps explain the rapid spread of the virus, and also helps define a potential target for antirviral intervention… The study itself was published in the Science magazine on the 20th of October.

More details announced by the University of Helsinki:

“That SARS-CoV-2 uses the receptor ACE2 to infect our cells was known, but viruses often use multiple factors to maximize their infectious potential” says Dr. Giuseppe Balistreri, head of the research group Viral Cell Biology at the University of Helsinki involved in the study. “Unlike the main receptor ACE2, which is present in low levels, Neuropilin-1 is very abundant in the cells of the nasal cavity. This is a strategically important localization possibly contributing to the efficient infectivity of this new coronavirus, which has caused a major pandemic, spreading rapidly around the world”, Balistreri explains…

By specifically blocking neuropilin-1 with antibodies, the researchers were able to significantly reduce infection in laboratory cell cultures. “If you think of ACE2 as a door lock to enter the cell, then neuropilin-1 could be a factor that directs the virus to the door. ACE2 is expressed at very low levels in most cells. Thus, it is not easy for the virus to find doors to enter. Other factors such as neuropilin-1 might help the virus finding its door”, says Balistreri…

Balistreri cautiously concludes “it is currently too early to speculate whether blocking directly neuropilin could be a viable therapeutic approach, as this could lead to side effects. This will have to be looked at in future studies. Currently our laboratory is testing the effect of new molecules that we have specifically designed to interrupt the connection between the virus and neuropilin. Preliminary results are very promising and we hope to obtain validations in vivo in the near future.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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