Coronavirus: Newly discovered drug blocks early COVID-19 phases

Drugs against COVID-19 in prospect?

A recent research identified a drug that blocks a key receptor that SARS-CoV-2 infects its hosts with. The results of the study could lead to treatment that can prevent early infection of the novel coronavirus.

An investigation by the University of British Columbia found that an experimental drug blocks a key receptor, which appears to stop infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Cell".

Better understanding of key issues

The results of the research could lead to a promising treatment of the novel coronavirus. The study provides new insights into key aspects of SARS-CoV-2 and its interactions at the cellular level. The results also show how the virus can infect blood vessels and kidneys.

Effective drugs in the near future?

"We hope that our results will impact the development of a novel drug to treat this unprecedented pandemic," said study author Professor Dr. Josef Penninger of the University of British Columbia in a press release.

What is ACE2?

ACE2 is a protein on the surface of the cell membrane. ACE2 plays an extremely important role in corona infections because it serves as a key receptor for the spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. Previous research has found that ACE2 is the key receptor for viral respiratory disease SARS in living organisms. In experiments in the laboratory, the protein has also been linked to cardiovascular diseases and lung failure.

Does the drug APN01 really protect against COVID-19?

The new study provides the necessary evidence that a drug called APN01 (human recombinant soluble angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 - hrsACE2) is useful as an antiviral therapy for COVID-19, the researchers explain. In the cell cultures analyzed in the study, hrsACE2 inhibited the coronavirus load by a factor of 1,000 to 5,000. Artificially produced replicas of human blood vessels and kidneys (organoids) grown from human stem cells showed that the virus can directly infect these tissues and reproduce in them.

Study promotes key findings

This provides important information about the development of the disease and the fact that severe cases of COVID-19 are associated with multi-organ failure and signs of cardiovascular damage. hrsACE2 reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection in these man-made tissues.

Why research on organoids?

“The use of organoids allows us to test treatments in a very flexible way that are already used for other diseases or are about to be validated. In these moments when time is short, human organoids save the time we would spend testing a new drug on humans, ”says study author Professor Núria Montserrat from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Spain.

Will we be able to prevent infection soon?

The virus causing COVID-19 is a close relative of the first SARS virus. Previous research has helped to quickly identify ACE2 as the entry point for SARS-CoV-2, which explains a lot about the disease. It is now known that a soluble form of ACE2 could actually be a very rational therapy against the virus, since it specifically targets the gate that the virus needs to be infected. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Vanessa Monteil, Hyesoo Kwon, Patricia Prado, Astrid Hagelkrüys, Reiner A. Wimmer et al .: Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections in engineered human tissues using clinical-grade soluble human ACE2, in Cell (published April 2020), Cell
  • Trial drug can significantly block early stages of COVID-19 in engineered human tissues, University of British Columbia (Published Apr 2, 2020), UBC

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