Newly derived EK1 peptide improves peptide solubility and antiviral activty.

Abstract: The beginning of 2020 has seen the emergence of COVID-19 outbreak caused by a novel coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). There is an imminent need to better understand this new virus and to develop ways to control its spread. In this study, we sought to gain insights for vaccine design against SARS-CoV-2 by considering the high genetic similarity between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV, which caused the outbreak in 2003, and leveraging existing immunological studies of SARS-CoV. By screening the experimentally-determined SARS-CoV-derived B cell and T cell epitopes in the immunogenic structural proteins of SARS-CoV, we identified a set of B cell and T cell epitopes derived from the spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins that map identically to SARS-CoV-2 proteins. As no mutation has been observed in these identified epitopes among the 120 available SARS-CoV-2 sequences (as of 21 February 2020), immune targeting of these epitopes may potentially offer protection against this novel virus. For the T cell epitopes, we performed a population coverage analysis of the associated MHC alleles and proposed a set of epitopes that is estimated to provide broad coverage globally, as well as in China. Our findings provide a screened set of epitopes that can help guide experimental efforts towards the development of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.


Ahmed SF, Quadeer AA, Mckay MR. Preliminary Identification of Potential Vaccine Targets for the COVID-19 Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Based on SARS-CoV Immunological Studies. Viruses. 2020;12(3)

Abstract: In 2019, a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infecting Humans has emerged in Wuhan, China. Its genome has been sequenced and the genomic information promptly released. Despite a high similarity with the genome sequence of SARS-CoV and SARS-like CoVs, we identified a peculiar furin-like cleavage site in the Spike protein of the 2019-nCoV, lacking in the other SARS-like CoVs. In this article, we discuss the possible functional consequences of this cleavage site in the viral cycle, pathogenicity and its potential implication in the development of antivirals.


Coutard B, Valle C, De lamballerie X, Canard B, Seidah NG, Decroly E. The spike glycoprotein of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade. Antiviral Res. 2020;176:104742.

Abstract: As of January 22, 2020, a total of 571 cases of the 2019-new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported in 25 provinces (districts and cities) in China. At present, there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for human and animal coronavirus, so that identifying the drug treatment options as soon as possible is critical for the response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak. Three general methods, which include existing broad-spectrum antiviral drugs using standard assays, screening of a chemical library containing many existing compounds or databases, and the redevelopment of new specific drugs based on the genome and biophysical understanding of individual coronaviruses, are used to discover the potential antiviral treatment of human pathogen coronavirus. Lopinavir /Ritonavir, Nucleoside analogues, Neuraminidase inhibitors, Remdesivir, peptide (EK1), arbidol, RNA synthesis inhibitors (such as TDF, 3TC), anti-inflammatory drugs (such as hormones and other molecules), Chinese traditional medicine, such ShuFengJieDu Capsules and Lianhuaqingwen Capsule, could be the drug treatment options for 2019-nCoV. However, the efficacy and safety of these drugs for 2019- nCoV still need to be further confirmed by clinical experiments.

Introduction:Very recently, a novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, emerged in Wuhan, China and then quickly spread worldwide, resulting in >17,388 confirmed cases and 361 deaths as of 3 February 2020, thus calling for the development of safe and effective therapeutics and prophylatics.


Xia S, Zhu Y, Liu M, et al. Fusion mechanism of 2019-nCoV and fusion inhibitors targeting HR1 domain in spike protein. Cell Mol Immunol. 2020;

Abstract: Continuously emerging highly pathogenic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) remain a major threat to human health, as illustrated in past SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV outbreaks. The development of a drug with broad-spectrum HCoV inhibitory activity would address this urgent unmet medical need. Although previous studies have suggested that the HR1 of HCoV spike (S) protein is an important target site for inhibition against specific HCoVs, whether this conserved region could serve as a target for the development of broad-spectrum pan-CoV inhibitor remains controversial. Here, we found that peptide OC43-HR2P, derived from the HR2 domain of HCoV-OC43, exhibited broad fusion inhibitory activity against multiple HCoVs. EK1, the optimized form of OC43-HR2P, showed substantially improved pan-CoV fusion inhibitory activity and pharmaceutical properties. Crystal structures indicated that EK1 can form a stable six-helix bundle structure with both short α-HCoV and long β-HCoV HR1s, further supporting the role of HR1 region as a viable pan-CoV target site.

Xia S, Yan L, Xu W, et al. A pan-coronavirus fusion inhibitor targeting the HR1 domain of human coronavirus spike. Sci Adv. 2019;5(4):eaav4580.

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