The world was waiting for a sign of hope to fight the COVID-19 epidemic when researchers released the first encouraging drops of drug development against Coronavirus last month. Coronavirus is a pandemic disease that affects the respiratory systems of organisms. Coronavirus affects humans as well as animals. But its effect on animals is not much as crucial as on human beings.
Passive Immunization or Plasma Treatment
There is no such medical treatment for coronavirus. But in China, those who are in critical conditions are treated by a method called Passive immunization or Plasma treatment. Plasma means the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies.
- Passive immunization: Immunity is developed against coronavirus in patients.
- Plasma Treatment: The blood of that patient who is healthy now and recovered from the attack of the virus has been taken, and then plasma is removed from the blood, and then it is injected into the patient who is infected with the coronavirus.
This plasma develops antibodies in the blood of patients and patients recover in a few days. But this treatment requires a lot of experiments as the blood taken from the recovered patient firstly tested to check whether it is fit now to inject into other patient’s body or not. This experimentation takes a lot of time and also this cure is not enough to treat a pandemic like COVID-19.
Till now, some countries founded vaccines for Coronavirus, scientists are trying their best to sort out the issue. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are prescribed for malaria by the US food and drug administration. So, FDA approved this to test against COVID-19.
Supercharging New Drug
Researchers are increasing the production of a promising drug that effectively eliminates SARS-CoV in cell culture. The team hopes the drug will also be effective against the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the close cousin of SARS.
Under the leadership of Northwest University and Shanghai Science and Technology University, the research team produced a promising molecule in a cell-free system called valinomycin. In this way, they increased production more than 5,000 times in just a few design cycles and achieved a higher molecular concentration in cells than before.
“Because we use a cell-free system, we can optimize production faster than cells to further increase production,” said Michael Jewett of Northwestern University. “For example, the route optimization cycle takes days instead of weeks or months, and this speed can be very important when dealing with a pandemic like the COVID-19 outbreak.” The research was recently published online in the journal Metabolic Engineering and will be published in the edition of July 2020.
Jewett is Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering at McCormick Engineering College, Walter P. Murphy, and Director of the Northwest Synthetic Biology Center. He continued his studies with Jian Li, an assistant professor at the Physical Science and Technology School at Shanghai Science and Technology University.
Jewett pioneered several projects using cell-free biotechnology to speed up COVID-19 therapy. His team removed the molecular machine from the cell and then used the machine to produce products such as therapeutics safely, cheaply, and quickly. The idea is like opening the hood of a car and removing the engine, which allows researchers to use the engine for different purposes without being restricted by the car.
Jewett is a member of Northwestern University Life Process Chemistry Institute and Northwestern University Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Valinomycin is a naturally occurring peptide that has recently emerged as a potential antiviral drug for the treatment of SARS. Jewett envisioned using cell-free synthetic biology to search for similar molecules or changing its valinomycin, to make it safer and more effective.