Coronavirus protein changes shape
Through cryo-EM and experiments, the researchers found that the “docking protein” of the new coronavirus occurs in two forms: Before the infection of human cells, it looks different than during the infection process. The “docking protein” changes from one form to the other by greatly changing its structure. Depending on the form, it is inactive or active, chemically stable or unstable. This is important for the development of an antidote.
Related to SARS and MERS viruses, but more contagious
SARS-CoV-2, formerly known as 2019-nCoV, is related to the corona viruses that cause SARS and MERS virus infections. However, the new corona virus is better adapted to humans and therefore around 10 to 20 times more contagious. It is therefore possible that the virus spreads from person to person faster than its relatives. In experiments, the researchers also found evidence that agents against SARS and MERS cannot harm the new corona virus.
Strong matches with a bat corona virus
Another finding from the US researchers: The new corona virus has 98 percent agreement with a corona virus that bats infected (coronavirus type RaTG13). This supports the thesis that SARS-CoV-2 was transmitted by bats. The infection was probably not made directly, but via intermediate hosts. Perhaps, for example, about that pangolin and its consumption. The study of the “docking protein” of the coronavirus was launched on February 19, 2020 in Science magazine published,
Virus expert Osterhaus: “China reacted more effectively”
Virus expert Professor Albert Osterhaus, co-discoverer of the SARS and MERS corona viruses, said in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that China learned from the SARS epidemic 18 years ago and reacted much more effectively.
“I can’t afford to judge whether that’s all ethically or morally right. But they definitely took the problem seriously this time and didn’t ignore it too long, as with SARS.” Albert Osterhaus, virus expert
However, quarantine measures like those in China cannot be implemented in Germany or the Netherlands. You can’t just cordon off Berlin or Hanover. Osterhaus points out that it is therefore all the more important to prepare and continue working on medicines and vaccines.