Researchers in the United States have suggested a new approach to treating infection with coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the agent that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The study showed that inhibiting phosphorylation of a key structural protein expressed on coronaviruses impaired SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung epithelial cells.
The team used inhibitors of the host cell protein glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) to block phosphorylation of the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein that is essential for coronavirus replication.
The researchers also demonstrated that the GSK-3 inhibitor lithium was associated with a significantly reduced risk for COVID-19
“Targeting GSK-3 may therefore provide an antiviral therapy for COVID-19 and for coronavirus infections that may arise in the future,” says Peter Klein from the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues.
A pre-print version of the research paper is available on the medRxiv* server, while the article undergoes peer review.
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