Monday, July 13, 2020

Brazilian particle accelerator reveals first images of covid-19

Researchers from the National Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM), located in Campinas, performed the first tests with Sirius, a Brazilian particle accelerator, using an essential protein for the life cycle of the new coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2).
The experiments resulted in 3D images of 3CL structures, one of the main proteins of the virus. With the results, scientists will be able to understand the biology of the virus and look for new drugs for covid-19.
CNPEM will open its doors to receive researchers involved with projects related to the new coronavirus from next Monday, the 13th. The operation called "Manacá" puts Sirius, the new Brazilian electron accelerator, at the disposal of scientists dedicated to studying the molecular details of the disease.
To provide one of the most modern structures in the world, CNPEM researchers tested Sirius and were able to perform the unpublished images of a coronavirus protein. The first results reveal details of the structure of this protein, important to understand the biology of the virus and support research seeking new drugs for covid-19.
"The sample analyzed in the first experiments at Sirius was the 3CL protein of SARS-CoV-2. It is one of the main proteins of the virus. This and other proteins are strategic targets for the development of drugs, because when we can inhibit these proteins, it is possible to interfere in viral replication," explains Daniela Trivella, research coordinator of the CNPEM task force against covid-19, in an interview with Estadão.
"To interfere with the activity of a target protein it is important to know its three-dimensional structure, that is, the position of each of the atoms that compose it. Identify your weaknesses, know where we can interfere to change your activity and impact the life cycle of the virus. Synchrotron light techniques allow us to do that. We can also observe, on the atomic scale, how these proteins interact with drugs. These molecular details generate knowledge that is fundamental to support the search for new drugs and to understand the biology of the virus," adds Trivella.
The report also contacted Ana Carolina Zeri, a researcher who coordinates sirius's first research station to go live. She explains that electron accelerator helps to find vulnerabilities in the structure of the virus and these "loopholes" can serve to attack it with drugs.
"Knowing the molecular structure of proteins fundamental to the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses may be the key to attacking them with new molecules that can lead to drug development. In the case of HIV, for example, the first drugs were developed from the identification of molecular data of proteins fundamental to the virus. Drugs with this action are present in the cocktails used for HIV to this day", he says.
"The images we released at this first moment reveal the structure of a SARS-CoV-2 protein already known and resolved in synchrotrons from other countries. The reproducibility of already well-established data shows that sirius's first research station to receive an experiment is generating reliable data, providing security for performing unprecedented analyses, still in the early stages of testing," zeri says.
To use the particle accelerator scientists will have to submit research proposals for a technical evaluation of the experts. "At this moment, we consider that the machine is in the scientific commissioning phase, still conducting experiments under conditions that impose some limitations. However, in response to the crisis caused by covid-19, we chose to make this tool available in advance to researchers who are already familiar with protein crystallography experiments, so that they can advance the molecular understanding of the virus," says Harry Westfahl Jr. director of the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS).
The project coordination also states that the first differentiated results should be published and shared in the task force involving researchers from around the world.
"In addition to our commitment to the public research agenda with SARS-CoV-2, the start of the operation will benefit the scientific community throughout the country. Researchers will be able to submit research proposals to use this line of light," says Mateus Cardoso, head of lnls' soft and biological materials division.
Exame - 12/07/2020 News Item translated automatically
Click HERE to see original
Other news
DATAMARK LTDA. © Copyright 1998-2020 ®All rights reserved.Av. Brig. Faria Lima,1993 third floor 01452-001 São Paulo/SP