Viper venom found to inhibit COVID virus from multiplying

pharmafile | September 1, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development  

Brazilian researchers have found that a molecule in the venom of a jararacussu pit viper can prevent coronavirus reproduction.

The study, published in the scientific journal Molecules this month, found that the molecule produced by the viper inhibited the virus’s ability to multiply in monkey cells by 75%.

Rafael Guido, University of Sao Paulo professor and an author of the study, said: “We were able to show this component of snake venom was able to inhibit a very important protein from the virus.”

The molecule is a peptide, or chain of amino acids, that can connect to an enzyme of the coronavirus called PLPro, which is vital to reproduction of the virus, without hurting other cells.

Already known for its antibacterial qualities, the peptide can be synthesised in the laboratory, Guido said in an interview, making the capture or raising of the snakes unnecessary.

Giuseppe Puorto, a herpetologist running the Butantan Institute’s biological collection in Sao Paulo, said: “We’re wary about people going out to hunt the jararacussu around Brazil, thinking they’re going to save the world … That’s not it!”

“It’s not the venom itself that will cure the coronavirus.”

Researchers will now evaluate the efficiency of various doses of the molecule and determine whether it is able to prevent the virus from entering cells in the first place, according to a statement from the State University of Sao Paulo, which was also involved in the research.

The hope is to eventually test the substance in human cells, but the release from the university gave no timeline.

The jararacussu is one of the largest snakes in Brazil, measuring up to 6 feet long. It lives in the coastal Atlantic Forest and is also found in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Kat Jenkins

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