Cure for COVID-19 hard to come by due to high binding to human cells: Israeli study

Israeli researchers say the novel coronavirus’ binding to human cells is so high that it will be very difficult to find a cure for the virus, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) said Thursday.

In a study published on BioRxiv pre-print server for biology, the HUJI’s researchers examined the differences between SARS and COVID-19 in their attack strategies targeting healthy human lung cells.

The conclusion was that COVID-19’s binding to human cells is particularly stronger and difficult to dissolve compared to SARS, so it would be difficult to develop a COVID-19 drug of the kind that was effective against SARS.

The researchers explained that the two viruses are structurally similar in 72.8 percent, but there is a significant difference in their attachment, via protrusions, to the human receptors.

According to the team, SARS binds to the human receptors in a momentary and springy manner and its binding to the receptor was loose and not strong, so it was relatively easy to develop drugs to break those ties.

In contrast, the novel coronavirus optimally connects to more points in the human cell surface, with a greater number of double and strong connections compared to SARS.

As a result, although COVID-19 may be less flexible in its binding capacity, its binding is significantly strong, stiff, and difficult to detect compared to the SARS.

“Therefore, at the medical level, it will be difficult to develop a drug that can disconnect the many strong bindings, including drugs considered effective against SARS,” the researchers concluded.