• A mosquito protein, called AEG12, strongly inhibits the family of viruses that cause yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Zika, and also weakly inhibits coronaviruses, according to scientists at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators.
• The researchers found that AEG12 works by destabilising the viral envelope, breaking its protective covering. The protein does not affect viruses that do not have an envelope.
• At the molecular level, AEG12 rips out the lipids (the fat-like portions of the membrane that hold the virus together).
• The findings, however, could lead to therapeutics against viruses that affect millions of people around the world.
• While the researchers demonstrated that AEG12 was most effective against flaviviruses — the family of viruses to which Zika, West Nile, and others belong — they felt it is possible AEG12 could be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
• But, it will take years of bioengineering to make AEG12 a viable therapy for Covid-19.
Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: AEG12
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