3CL Protease Inhibitors
The science behind Tollovid
The Potential Key to Combating the SARS-CoV-2 Virus Life Cycle
The Virus Life Cycle
The stages in the virus life cycle include binding, entry, breakdown of proteins into smaller polypeptides or amino acids, and RNA replication. Nidovirus coronaviruses, like any other virus, is a single strand of RNA (or DNA) wrapped in a protein envelope. The RNA contains the genetic instructions the virus needs to make copies of itself. Viruses spread with a simple two-step process:
- Step 1
- Step 2
I. Break into a healthy cell
II. Hijack the cell’s own mechanisms to make copies of itself
Studies have shown, however, that by using protease inhibitors, we can stop the virus’ ability to replicate itself, halting the spread in it tracks. To understand how this is done, let’s take a closer look at the SARS-CoV-2 virus lifecycle:
1. Binding & Entry
Once inside, the virus RNA instructs the cell’s machinery to make a long polypeptide (protein) containing special enzymes. This long protein must be cut apart to liberate the enzymes for the virus to replicate. To accomplish this, the virus also encodes a special ‘scissors’, called 3CL protease, which cleaves the polypeptide up into the different enzymes that then become functional.
3. Cutting & Replication
Before these enzymes can start working, they need to be separated from each other. The protease enzyme acts like a pair of scissors, cutting the polypeptide up into the different enzymes that then become functional.
4. 3CL Inhibitors
When the protease enzyme comes in contact with a protease inhibitor, it's prevented from functioning. Protease inhibitors, like Tollovid, are designed to tightly bind to the protease enzyme, blocking its ability to cleave. This shuts down the entire virus-making apparatus, leaving it unable to make a single virus.
What is a 3CL protease?
How do viruses infect our bodies?
What are proteases?
Proteases are essentially proteins that are used to break down other certain chemical structures of protein in our bodies. On their own, proteases aren’t harmful. The process can help with digestion or with the breakdown of proteins involved in swelling and pain.
On the flip side, proteases are necessary for certain health conditions and viruses to thrive. The 3CL protease, is an essential enzyme found in coronaviruses, allowing viruses to penetrate the host cells to cause infection and make us sick.
What are protease inhibitors?
Protease inhibitors, a class of medications also used to treat HIV and hepatitis C, have been shown to stop the viral life cycle. The first protease inhibitor to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was in December 1995.
Protease inhibitors are designed to tightly bind to the protease enzyme, helping to stop a virus’s ability to replicate itself, halting the spread in it tracks. 3CL protease inhibitors shut down COVID-19 and other coronavirus-making apparatus, blocking its ability to function to make a single virus.
Since 1995, new protease inhibitors and combinations with improved dosing have become available, but the protease inhibitors developed in the mid-1990s changed the course of many diseases and viruses.
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