3CL Protease Inhibitors
(aka 3CLpro / Main Protease / Mpro / NSP5)
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:
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:
First, the virus must get inside the cell. Every virus does this slightly differently, but Coronaviruses use their signature “spikes” to fuse themselves to a cell’s outer membrane and then squeeze their way inside.