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A new biotechnology effective in blocking the multiplication of SARS-CoV-2

@B. Nicolas INRAE
More than 600 million people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 since 2020. Vaccines limit severe forms of the disease but do not block the spread of the virus. Several strategies are therefore being developed in parallel, including blocking the multiplication of the virus in the nose. This is what scientists from the VIM unit (UMR INRAE-UVSQ), in collaboration with EnvA and the University of Paris-Saclay, have succeeded in doing. They have selected and used proteins that prevent the virus from attaching and limit its multiplication. These promising results were published on September 6 in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

SARS-CoV-2 infection begins in the nasal cavity. It multiplies abundantly there and then spreads to the surrounding environment. But it can also spread to the lungs, where it causes the most severe pathologies. Blocking its multiplication in the nasal cavity would therefore make it possible to curb the infection and potentially the spread of the virus at an early stage.

A consortium of scientists coordinated by INRAE has developed antivirals based on biosynthetic proteins, the AlphaReps. These biosynthetic proteins work like antibodies: they are able to recognize the virus' attachment protein, the Spike protein.

More specifically, the researchers selected two AlphaReps proteins, named F9 and C2. They each recognize a different part of the Spike protein with a very high affinity. The combination of the two allows a superior antiviral activity, including on Delta and Omicron variants.

In addition to their strong antiviral capacity, these AlphaReps are very stable and inexpensive to produce: two essential assets for their development. Promising results for the development of antivirals to reduce the pathology and spread of Covid-19.


See also

Press release INRAE


Thebault S, Lejal N, Dogliani A, Donchet, A, Urvoas A, Valerio-Lepiniec M, et al. (2022) Biosynthetic proteins targeting the SARS-CoV-2 spike as anti-virals. PLoS Pathog 18(9): e1010799.