In quest for coronavirus drug: PGIMER docs identify proteins, enzymes scientists must target

Hina Rohtaki
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Regular screening is ongoing at the Chandigarh International airport. (File)

The Experimental Pharmacology Laboratory (EPL) of the Department of Pharmacology, PGIMER, Chandigarh, has identified certain proteins and enzymes as “potential targets” which need to be “killed” while treating a coronavirus patient.

Doctors said that by either using existing drugs or developing new drugs, these “targets” – which doctors identified using in-silico designing – have to be killed.

At a time when the number of COVID-19 cases is on a rise in India, PGIMER's Department of Pharmacology is attempting to design new drugs that could fight the virus.

A team of doctors under Professor Bikash Medhi led this research.

“We have identified a few potential targets which need to be killed if one has to survive from this virus. The targets identified include nucleocapsid protein, protease enzyme, E protein, M Protein, Spike protein. In-silico drug designing was carried out and a few important hits were identified in the last two months. There are seven strains of human corona viruses, which include 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV, responsible for the infection with special reference to involvement of the respiratory tract, e.g. common cold, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis and other system symptoms like occasional watery diarrhoea etc,” said Dr Medhi.

He added, “Among these seven strains, three strains proved to be highly pathogenic (SERS-CoV, MERS-CoV and 2019-nCoV), which caused endemic of severe corona virus disease. Interestingly, among the hits there were few molecules, which were earlier approved for other conditions. Thus, the selected hits and the re-purposed molecules can be further evaluated in in-vitro and in-vivo platform for further validation.”

The team working on the project comprised Dr Phulen Sarma, Nishant Sekhar, Manisha Prajapat, Dr Pramod Avti, Dr Ajay Prakash, Hardeep Kaur, Dr Subodh Kumar, Dr Harish Kumar and Dr Seema Bansal.

So far, no coronavirus case has been reported in Chandigarh. Regular screening is ongoing at the Chandigarh International airport.