Development of a molecule capable of inhibiting the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in cultured cells is reported this week in Nature Communications.
Shibo Jiang and colleagues designed a short peptide (protein fragment) capable of interacting with MERS-CoV protein responsible for virus entry into the cells. When used in cultured cells, this peptide could efficiently block the infection of cells with MERS-CoV.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus emerged over a year ago in the Middle East causing outbreaks of a SARS-like illness with a high case fatality rate. The reports of its person-to-person transmission through close contacts have raised a global concern about its pandemic potential. Therefore the development of drugs capable of inhibiting its spread is of great importance and this study may provide a step towards this goal. It is not yet clear, however, whether the molecule reported here will also be effective in blocking virus infection in animal models of the disease.