Molecule Derived From Poisonous Plant Blocks All SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Cell Cultures

A plant-based antiviral treatment for Covid-19, recently discovered by scientists at the University of Nottingham, has been found to be just as effective at treating all variants of the virus SARS-CoV-2, even the highly infectious Delta variant.

The struggle to control the Covid-19 pandemic is made more difficult by the continual emergence of virulent SARS-CoV-2 variants, which are either more infectious, cause more severe infection, or both.

In a new study published in Virulencea group of scientists, led by Professor Kin-Chow Chang from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University, found that the Delta variant, compared with other recent variants, showed the highest ability to multiply in cells, and was most able to directly spread to neighbouring cells. In co-infections with two different SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Delta variant also boosted the multiplication of its co-infected partners.

The study also showed that a novel natural antiviral drug called thapsigargin (TG), recently discovered by the same group of scientists to block other viruses, including the original SARS-CoV-2, was just as effective at treating all of the newer SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Delta variant.

In their previous studies* the team showed that the plant-derived antiviral, at small doses, triggers a highly effective broad-spectrum host-centred antiviral innate immune response against three major types of human respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

In this latest study, the team set out to find out how well the emergent Alpha, Beta and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 are able to multiply in cells relative to each other as single variant infections and in co-infections– where cells are infected with two variants at the same time. The team also wanted to know just how effective TG was at blocking these emergent variants. Notably, all SARS-CoV-2 variants were highly susceptible to TG treatment. A single pre-infection priming dose of TG effectively blocked all single-variant infections and every co-infection at greater than 95% relative to controls. Likewise, TG was effective in inhibiting each variant during active infection.

Source: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/

3-D printing of tissue-like vascular structures

An international team of scientists have discovered a new material that can be 3-D printed to create tissue-like vascular structures. In a new study published today in Nature Communications, led by Professor Alvaro Mata at the University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University London, researchers have developed a way to 3-D print graphene oxide with a protein which can organise into tubular structures that replicate some properties of vascular tissue.

Cross-section of a bioprinted tubular structure with endothelial cells (green) on and embedded within the wall

This work offers opportunities in biofabrication by enabling simulatenous top-down 3-D bioprinting and bottom-up of synthetic and biological components in an orderly manner from the nanoscale. Here, we are biofabricating micro-scale capillary-like fluidic structures that are compatible with cells, exhibit physiologically relevant properties, and have the capacity to withstand flow. This could enable the recreation of vasculature in the lab and have implications in the development of safer and more efficient drugs, meaning treatments could potentially reach patients much more quickly,”said Professor Mata.

Self-assembly is the process by which multiple components can organise into larger well-defined structures. Biological systems rely on this process to controllably assemble molecular building-blocks into complex and functional materials exhibiting remarkable properties such as the capacity to grow, replicate, and perform robust functions.

The new biomaterial is made by the self-assembly of a protein with graphene oxide. The mechanism of assembly enables the flexible (disordered) regions of the protein to order and conform to the graphene oxide, generating a strong interaction between them. By controlling the way in which the two components are mixed, it is possible to guide their assembly at multiple size scales in the presence of cells and into complex robust structures.

The material can then be used as a 3-D printing bioink to print structures with intricate geometries and resolutions down to 10 um. The research team have demonstrated the capacity to build vascular-like structures in the presence of cells and exhibiting biologically relevant chemical and .

 “There is a great interest to develop materials and fabrication processes that emulate those from nature. However, the ability to build robust functional materials and devices through the self-assembly of molecular components has until now been limited. This research introduces a new method to integrate proteins with  by self-assembly in a way that can be easily integrated with additive manufacturing to easily fabricate biofluidic devices that allow us replicate key parts of human tissues and organs in the lab,” explained  Dr. Yuanhao Wu, the lead researcher on the project.

Source: https://phys.org/
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