IIT Roorkee Scientists Identify Molecule That Can Kill Chikungunya Virus
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The nsP2 protease is a strict viral enzyme. It means it is absent in humans and, thus, is an excellent antiviral drug target for chikungunya virus. Our research group has targeted nsP2 using biochemical and structure-based approach.
There’s another feather to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee’s cap. Just a few days after IIT Roorkee announced the Dhadkan app—an app that monitors the heart rate and predicts the risk of heart failure—researchers from this prestigious institute have identified a molecule that exhibits antiviral activity against the deadly chikungunya virus.
According to them, the molecule’s antiviral activity achieved around 99 per cent reduction in the virus. The research conducted under a project of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Ministry of Science and Technology, was led by Shailly Tomar, a professor at DBT, IIT Roorkee. The team used structure-based studies of chikungunya virus-specific nsP2 protease to identify molecules—Pep-I and Pep-II—that exhibited protease inhibitory as well as antiviral activity.
“The nsP2 protease is a strict viral enzyme. It means it is absent in humans and, thus, is an excellent antiviral drug target for chikungunya virus. Our research group has targeted nsP2 using biochemical and structure-based approach. We identified a molecule that not only possesses anti-nsP2 activity but also effectively kills the chikungunya virus in the cell-based assays,” said Professor Tomar.
One of the two molecules, Pep-I has a higher antiviral activity against chikungunya virus. “Out of the two molecules, PeP-I is more effective as an anti-viral molecule as no virus was detected in cultured cells at a concentration as low as 10 microMolar,” said Rajat Mudgal and Harvijay Singh, research scholars at DBT.
Talking about the further work that is being done in this direction, Tomar said, “Derivatives of Pep-I and Pep-I like molecules are being developed that will be tested for their antiviral potential in an animal model.”
Chikungunya is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus which spreads between people via two types of mosquitos: Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. Currently, there are no drugs or vaccine available in the market to treat this disease. However, with this discovery, we’re hopeful that soon there will be an effective drug to fight chikungunya.