MIT chemists are testing a protein fragment that may inhibit coronaviruses’ ability to enter human lung cells

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In hopes of developing a possible treatment for Covid-19, a team of MIT chemists has designed a drug candidate that they believe may block coronaviruses’ ability to enter human cells. The potential drug is a short protein fragment, or peptide, that mimics a protein found on the surface of human cells.  The researchers have shown that their new peptide can bind to the viral protein that coronaviruses use to enter human cells, potentially disarming it.  “We have a lead compound that we really want to explore, because it does, in fact, interact with a viral protein in the way that we predicted it to interact, so it has a chance of inhibiting viral entry into a host cell,” says Brad Pentelute, an MIT associate professor of chemistry, who is leading the research team.