A specific chemical in the venom of a snake species is beneficial in inhibiting coronavirus replication in monkey cells, indicating a probable first step toward a viable medication to battle the COVID-19 producing virus. Brazilian researchers carried out the investigation.
The study, which was published this month in the scientific journal Molecules, discovered that the chemical generated by the ‘Jararacussu Pit Viper,’ a South American type of snake, reduced the coronavirus’ capacity to replicate in monkey cells by 75%.
“We were able to show that this component of snake venom may block a very essential protein from the virus,” said Rafael Guido, a professor at the University of Sao Paulo and one of the study’s authors.
According to experts, the substance in question is a peptide or a chain of amino acids extracted from the same. These acids can bind to a coronavirus enzyme called PLPro, which is essential for the virus’s replication, without harming other cells.
In a laboratory, the peptide or molecule, which is already well-known for its antibacterial characteristics, may be processed and synthesized.
Capturing or rearing the snakes is no longer essential.
According to a statement from the State University of Sao Paulo (Unesp), which was also engaged in the research, the next step is to analyze the efficacy of different dosages of the molecule and if it can prevent the virus from entering cells in the first place.
The researchers hope to test the venom molecule in human cells as well, although there is no set timetable or schedule for this.
It’s worth noting that the chemical has no effect on the body’s other cells.
The jararacussu snake is one of Brazil’s biggest snakes. It may grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) in length. It may be found in the coastal Atlantic Forest of Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina.