Scientists worldwide are trying to develop a drug/vaccine that can eradicate the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus). Like many other countries in the world, India is also actively taking part to find a solution for COVID-19. In India, several institutions of national importance, like CSIR, IITs, and ICMR, are playing crucial role in finding new technologies to tackle the pandemic.
Two researchers from IIT Guwahati – Sayantan Sinha along with his supervisor, Prof. Dr. Subhendu Sekhar Bag, FRSC, Department of Chemistry, as a continuation of their Drug Design and Development research program; and. Avishek Roy along with his supervisor, Prof. Ranjan Tamuli, Department of Bioscience & Bioengineering, have come up with an idea of developing “Chemically modified Fluorescent Nanomedicine” for COVID-19.
According to the researchers, it would play a trifunctional role against SARS-CoV-2. The proposed nanomedicine would have the potential ability to prevent nCoV-19 from infecting human cells. The fluorescent property would allow in the detection of the virus; and the antiviral property would damage the virus by stopping the replication process, the researchers said.
This idea has been selected amongst the top ideas in the “Undo Corona Ideation Challenge,” organized by Government of Assam.
According to the researchers, the material is an antiviral biogenic fluorescent Carbon Quantum Dot (FL-ASCQD), the surface decorated with Angiotensin II which is the primary substrate for human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) receptors (a receptor that is utilized by nCoV-19 for host cell entry).
In addition, the sulfate-decorated surface would act as a mimic of heparin sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) receptors of the host cell. Therefore, in the presence of novel coronavirus, the chemically modified nanomedicine would act as a competitive binder of hACE2 receptor. Thus, it would serve as a decoy to block all possible routes for entry into the cells. So if the virus cannot locate its cellular entry receptor(hACE2), there will be no chance of infection, they added.
Additionally, the viral spiked glycoproteins will attach to the HSPG mimics, and hence detection will be possible through photo-physical studies. Finally, the generic antiviral property of the nanomedicine will restrict the RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) activity and hence stop viral replication.