Scientists have yet again found a possible answer to avoid COVID-19 cases from happening, which means mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus and preventing more deaths from happening.

Coronavirus: Here's How 'Decoy Protein' Could Potentially Prevent COVID-19
(Photo : Pixabay)
The cells have ACE-2 receptors on its surface that the coronavirus uses to hijack it.

Hope Against COVID-19

According to a report by the Daily Mail, a team of researchers from the University of Leicester is working on creating the "decoy proteins" that could potentially stop coronavirus from infecting healthy people.

The SARS-CoV-2, or the novel coronavirus, causes COVID-19 by infecting healthy cells of the body.

Experts believe that the virus attacks the cells through the receptors known as ACE-2 receptors, which are found in the surface of the cells that are scattered around the body's airways.

The receptors provide a gateway to the system's bloodstream and then "facilitate" the infection from the novel coronavirus.

With the "decoy proteins," scientists hope that it would trick the SARS-CoV-2 virus and lure them away from healthy cells in the lungs and instead, the coronavirus would stick to the drug and incapacitate it.

"By creating an attractive decoy protein for the virus to bind to, we are aiming to block the ability of this virus to infect cells and protect the function of the cell surface receptors," said the University of Leicester Professor Nick Brindle.

If it is successful, it could prevent the symptoms of COVID-19, including severe pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases that could cause suffering and even death.

Experts have described the theory as "hope against the horrible pandemic."

Read Also: Coronavirus Death Toll in Wuhan Abruptly Raised to 50% as China Revised its Numbers

Testing the Theory

Besides the University of Leicester researchers, a team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, as well as experts from the University of British Columbia in Canada, have been using the theory.

So far, they have had promising results.

The team created a modified "soluble" form of the ACE-2 receptors that were called hrsACE-2 to human cells in a lab setting.

According to their research, which was published in the journal Cell, the approach stopped the virus from replicating at an early stage by "catching" the virus and blocking their way to the real ACE-2 receptor cells it was initially targeting.

A company in Austria known as Apeiron Biologics has already been given the green light to try the drug APN001 that contains hrsACE-2 as an active substance. 

Phase II of their trial aims to cure 200 critically ill COVID-19 patients in China.

Could Removing ACE-2 Receptors Work?

Some experts are working on removing the ACE-2 receptors in the body to prevent the coronavirus from sticking to the lung tissues and eventually progress to a COVID-19 infection, but many believe it would have negative side effects.

Two companies in the US, Vir Biotechnology and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, located in Boston and Massachusetts, respectively, are working on the theory.

ACE-2 receptors are found in cells throughout the body, but coronavirus apparently attacks the cells in the lungs most.

German researchers believe that the coronavirus "depends" on these receptors to hijack the human body--according to their study that was also published on Cell.

Besides the COVID-19 virus, the coronavirus behind the SARS outbreak back in 2002 also relied on the receptors to get into the body and replicate themselves to create an army that could damage our organs.

Read Also: Coronavirus: Doctors Discover People Who Experience Loss of Smell and Taste are Ten Times More Likely to Have COVID-19

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