In the fight against the coronavirus, scientists were able to effectively use the protein obtained from bananas. It can also help against other viruses.
Scientists have been dealing with Sars-CoV-2 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Various coronavirus measures have already been used to fight the virus. In addition, vaccination against the coronavirus is still considered a proven means of limiting the spread of the virus. Now, in a recent study, scientists may have taken the next step: They found that a modified protein originally from bananas could act as a kind of universal active substance against coronaviruses – and not only that.
Corona study: Protein from bananas as a possible active substance against viruses
A team of scientists from China and the USA, among others, published the results of their study in a professional journal Cell Reports Medicine. They investigated the H84T-BanLec lectin in animal models. It comes from bananas and has been specially modified by scientists for the study with precise molecular modifications. This prevented the usual adverse stimulation of the immune system. Normally, this would put the T-cells on non-directional alert. This would subsequently lead to an overreaction of the immune system and thus unwanted inflammation.
Lectins like H84T-BanLec are proteins that can bind to special structures found, for example, on influenza viruses. They prefer to bind to carbohydrates. However, they are not found on healthy body cells. Coronaviruses also carry complex sugars (aka carbohydrate compounds) called high-mannose glycans on their surface. This is also the case for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. In the study, changing the lectins brought about their desired property: they bound mainly to glycans on the surface of the virus. By “gluing” them together, SARS-CoV-2 with its spike protein can no longer anchor on human cells and subsequently penetrate them.
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Study shows: Banana protein is not only effective against corona
Using high-resolution atomic force microscopes, the researchers were able to identify the sites on the spike protein where H84T-BanLec docks. The researchers also showed that these connections are not only very strong, but also very diverse. This makes it more difficult for the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen to protect itself from lectin accumulation through changes and mutations.
The researchers see this as a positive result that gives hope: H84T-BanLec can therefore bind to all pathogens that form mannose-rich glycans. In addition to seasonal and epidemic coronaviruses, these are influenza viruses, hepatitis C, HIV, Ebola and herpes viruses. The research team sees this as “an excellent opportunity for use in future seasonal epidemics and global pandemics.”
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