Intranasally Administered Small Peptide That Blocks COVID-19 Spike Protein Interaction with ACE-2 Shows Success in COVID-19 Therapy in Mouse Model

In a study published online on January 11, 2021 in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, mouse models with COVID-19 showed positive results when a small peptide was introduced nasally. The peptide proved effective in reducing fever, protecting the lungs, improving heart function, and reversing “cytokine storm”--a condition in which an infection triggers the immune system to flood the bloodstream with inflammatory proteins. The researchers also report success in preventing the disease from progression. The open-access article is titled “ACE-2-interacting Domain of SARS-CoV-2 (AIDS) Peptide Suppresses Inflammation to Reduce Fever and Protect Lungs and Heart in Mice: Implications for COVID-19 Therapy.” "This could be a new approach to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and protect COVID-19 patients from breathing problems and cardiac issues," said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the Floyd A. Davis Professor of Neurology at Rush University Medical Center and a Research Career Scientist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, both in Chicago, understanding the mechanism is proving important to developing effective therapies for COVID-19." Many COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) suffer from cytokine storm that affects lungs, heart, and other organs. Although anti-inflammatory therapies such as steroids are available, very often these treatments cause immunosuppression. "Because SARS-CoV-2 binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) for entering into the cells, we have designed a hexapeptide corresponding to the ACE2-interacting domain of SARS-CoV-2 (AIDS) to inhibit the binding of virus with ACE-2," Dr. Pahan said. "AIDS peptide inhibits cytokines produced by only SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, not other inflammatory stimuli, indicating that AIDS peptide would not cause immunosuppression.
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