Scientists have developed protein fragments, called peptides, that fit snugly into a groove on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that it would typically use to infect a host cell. These peptides effectively trick the virus into “shaking hands” with a replica rather than the actual protein on a cell’s surface that lets the virus inside.
Ohio State University scientists designed and tested various peptides that resemble and look like ACE2 enough to convince the virus to bind to them, an action that blocks the virus’s ability to get inside the host cell.
“Our goal is that any time SARS-CoV-2 comes into contact with the peptides, the virus will be inactivated. This is because the virus Spike protein is already bound to something that it needs to use in order to bind to the cell,” said Amit Sharma, co-lead author of the study and assistant professor of veterinary biosciences at Ohio State. “To do this, we have to get to the virus while it’s still outside the cell.”