The country’s biggest and most complex infrastructure, the Sirius, the synchroton accelerator at the National Energy and Material Research Center (CNPEM) in Campinas, São Paulo state, has been used by researchers since the beginning of September to study protein crystals of the novel coronavirus.
A team of scientists at the University of São Paulo (USP) is analyzing over 200 samples of protein crystals of Sars-CoV-2 seeking the cast light fundamental molecular structures for the virus’s cycle of life through the particle accelerator.
According to the center, the purpose of researchers at the university is to be able to understand the linking mechanisms with substances that may inhibit their activities, interfering with the life cycle of the virus, which could lead to the creation of new direct-action antiviral drugs.
“In order for us to seek connectors that can attach to the virus’s proteins, inhibiting its activity, we need a source of synchroton light. In this regard, Sirius comes to represent a quantum leap for Brazil’s crystallography community,” said research coordinator Professor Glaucius Olive.
The data collected from Sirius, the research center reported, allow researchers to identify the position of each protein atom, thus ascertaining the exact spots where the connection with other substances takes place.
Among the proteins studied by USP is NSP-15 viral endoribonuclease, which has functions still not comprehended by scientists. The main hypothesis is that it is used by the novel coronavirus to dodge cells’ immune system. Also studied are proteins NSP-3 and NSP-5, both with a key role in replication and transcription of the virus’s genetic material.