Researchers explore microbial ecosystem for drugs to combat SARS-CoV-2


Creative representation of SARS-CoV-2 particles (not to scale). Credit: National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Researchers at Yonsei University in South Korea have found that certain commensal bacteria that reside in the human gut produce compounds that inhibit SARS-CoV-2. The research will be presented June 20 at the World Microbe Forum, an online meeting of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (EMFF) and several other societies that will take place online from June 20 to 24. June.

Previous clinical findings have shown that some patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 show gastrointestinal symptoms, while others show signs of infection only in the lungs.

“We wondered if bacteria residing in the gut could protect the gut from the invasion of the virus,” said Mohammed Ali, a doctor. medical student at Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.

To investigate this hypothesis, the researchers examined the dominant bacteria that inhabited the gut to detect activity against SARS-CoV-2. His research revealed that bifidobacteria, which have previously been shown to suppress other bacteria such as H. pylori and have been shown to be active against , had this activity, Ali said.

The researchers also used machine learning to search for possible disease-fighting compounds in databases containing microbially produced molecules, discovering some that could also be useful against SARS-CoV-2. “To form our model, we took advantage of previous coronavirus datasets in which several compounds were tested against coronavirus targets,” Ali said. “This approach appears to be significant as these targets share common features with SARS-CoV-2.”

Ali stressed the ecological nature of his approach to this work, noting that many existing antibiotics and cancer therapies are compounds that bacteria use to compete with each other within the , and which were initially purified from microbial secretions.

“Finding microbes that secrete anti-coronavirus molecules will be a promising method to develop natural probiotics or designed to expand our therapeutic prevention techniques, to provide a more sustainable way to fight viral infection,” Ali said.

Search for COVID-19 drugs enhanced by the discovery of SARS

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