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Analysis of interactions at the heart of SARS-CoV-2

A team of international scientists from the universities of Glasgow and Oxford and the Rosalind Franklin Institute have identified key cellular factors that are crucial for the infection of SARS-CoV-2.

The study, funded by the MRC and published in Molecular Cell, provides crucial new insights into the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle, revealing new pathways to target the virus within host cells and leading the way for potential new treatment options as we move into the next phase of the pandemic.

By identifying key cellular proteins that play a critical role in promoting or restricting virus infections, the researchers believe that it will be possible to develop novel antiviral treatments or repurpose available drugs.

In the study, the scientists looked at the viral RNA, the molecule at the heart of the life cycle of viruses like SARS-CoV-2. Until now, very little has been known about the interactions of this important molecule with the host cell. To fill this gap, the researchers developed a pioneering approach to identify the different proteins that interact with SARS-CoV-2 RNA in lung epithelium cell lines.

The results revealed that the viral RNA interacts with dozens of cellular proteins. The authors show that these proteins are fundamental for SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that many of them have great potential for new therapeutic approaches against COVID-19, possibly using commercially-available drugs.

The paper, Global analysis of protein-RNA interactions in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells reveals key regulators of infection, is published in Molecular Cell. 

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International Convention Centre, Birmingham
14-17 March 2022

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