Chinese and US research teams have jointly discovered two bacterial secreted proteins that can effectively inactivate a series of viruses, including the novel coronavirus, dengue and the HIV, according to a media report.
The result "provides a future avenue for the development of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that might reduce the clinical burden caused by emerging viral diseases," according to a paper released on bioRxiv, the preprint server for biology, on May 22, state-run Global Times reported here on Tuesday.
As the development of virus-specific vaccines and antiviral drugs usually take a great deal of time, broad-spectrum antiviral drugs could be crucial to preventing the spread of new viral diseases in a timely manner, the paper said.
The researchers first identified a soil bacterium from the gut of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. They then sequenced the whole bacterial genome to characterise the bacterium and identified two proteins that can effectively impair a series of viruses, including dengue virus, HIV and the novel coronavirus, according to the paper.
The two proteins contain a lipase domain, the paper said. There is evidence to indicate that certain lipases present a potent antiviral activity. For example, a study in 2010 showed that either lipoprotein lipase or hepatic triglyceride lipase can impair Hepatitis C virus infection.
Another in 2017 showed that a secreted phospholipase A2 isolated from Naja mossambica snake venom showed the effectiveness in inactivating hepatitis C virus, dengue virus and Japanese encephalitis virus, the paper noted.
Research teams from Tsinghua University and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, disease prevention and control centre in Shenzhen, South China's Guangzhou Province, and University of Connecticut in the US took part in the research, the study said.
Worldwide, the novel coronavirus, which originated in China late last year. has infected nearly 5.5 million people, killing over 346,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has had about 170,000 deaths and the US has seen nearly 100,000. Experts say the tally understates the real effects of the pandemic due to counting issues in many nations.