Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

How Remdesivir tricks coronavirus?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Remdesivir

Mains level: Coronovirus and the hunt for its vaccine

A new research has found how Remdesivir treats coronavirus and described the exact mechanism of interaction between the virus and the drug.   Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral made by American pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences that was first developed to treat Ebola.

DNA/RNA related terminologies, Genes and Genomes, etc. always find their way in UPSC Prelims.  Most recent one was-

With reference to the recent developments in science, which one of the following statements is not correct? (CSP 2019)

(a) Functional chromosomes can be created by joining segments of DNA taken from cells of different species.

(b) Pieces of artificial functional DNA can be created in Iaboratories.

(c) A piece of DNA taken out from an animal cell can be made to replicate outside a living cell in a laboratory.

(d) Cells taken out from plants and animals can be made to undergo cell division in laboratory petri dishes.

How Remdesivir kills coronavirus?

  • Remdesivir is designed to obstruct the stage of replication, when the virus creates copies of itself, followed endlessly by the copies creating copies of themselves.

How does replication take place?

  • Once the virus enters the human cell, it releases its genetic material, which is then copied using the body’s existing mechanism.
  • At every stage of infection, various human proteins, virus proteins, and their interactions come into play.
  • At the replication stage, the key viral protein at play is an enzyme called RdRp (an enzyme is a kind of protein that speeds up chemical reactions within a cell).
  • It is RdRp that makes the copies, by processing components of the RNA of the virus.
  • University of Alberta researchers called it the “engine” of the virus in a paper last week, in which they described the action of Remdesivir against this “engine”.
  • In scientific literature, such an enzyme is called a polymerase (the p is RdRp stands for polymerase) or a replica.
  • In any case, this is the enzyme that is targeted by Remdesivir.

And how exactly does Remdesivir target this enzyme?

  • In order to replicate, the virus processes raw material from the virus RNA, broken down by another enzyme with that specific function.
  • When a patient is given Remdesivir — the inhibitor — it mimics some of this material and gets incorporated in the replication site.
  • With Remdesivir replacing the material it needs, the virus fails to replicate further.
  • These coronavirus polymerases are sloppy and they get fooled, so the inhibitor gets incorporated many times and the virus can no longer replicate.

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