Amidst the continuously rising coronavirus cases in the world, more and more experts are working on the vaccine. Nevan Krogan, a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, thinks that drugs like Camostat mesylate can block the interaction between the host and the virus. Drugs that deal with the host cells seem to fare better than drugs that target the coronavirus.
Studies are conducted to determine how these drugs work. For example, their past work identifies how MERS coronavirus infects the host cell. It starts when a protein on the viral surface attaches to the receptor called ACE2. After this, another human protein, the TMPRSS2 will allow the virus to fuse with the cell, then replicate inside.
A trial with Danish patients will be done by giving them two 100-milligram pills or placebo, 3 times a day in 5 days. The dosage will be controlled and their symptoms will be observed. The objective of the trial is to test if the drug will get to the lung cells.
Researchers at the Aarhus University in Denmark will start a clinical trial of the Camostat Mesylate, after the compound affected the novel coronavirus, thus, avoiding it from affecting human cells.
Nevan Krogan, a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, thinks, "The virus can't live by itself, right? It needs our genes and proteins to live and to replicate."
In the lab, Camostat will block TMPRSS2 according to molecular biologist Stefan Pöhlmann of the German Primate Center. The drug kept COVID-19 from infecting lung cells successfully in the lab study.
Researchers are planning a study with 180-patients. A first analysis will be done after the trial group have completed the study, with a 1-month follow-up. In 3-months, the study will reveal how well the drug worked.
Krogan's lab is looking for other human proteins that the virus exploits. To find these proteins and potential drug target, his lab does molecular fishing. The researchers attach a molecular handle of virus proteins which is placed in human cells to see what human proteins are attracted to it.
The preprint was posted in bioRxiv last March 22 where Krogan and his co-authors presented their results. It was about 332 human proteins, which the COVID-19 was attracted to. The researchers would like to gather evidence that the COVID-19 is very invasive to the host cell and the biological processes. They are DNA replication, vesicle trafficking, and the cytoskeleton showing how the COVID-19 inserts itself in the cell.
John Young, global head of infectious diseases at Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development, says that host-directed drugs might harm than cure even if it targets the virus directly. Targeting the host is risky though Krogan hopes pre-existing drugs like camostat mesylate may work. But if the compounds are more on the host cell, there is less chance it can become immune.