The very venomous snake jaracussu may hold the key to fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
A team at Sao Paulo State University (Brazil) has found that a molecule in the venom of the jararacussu snake of the pit viper subfamily can inhibit the production of corona virus in monkey cells up to 75%. This discovery is a possible first step towards a drug to treat Covid-19.
The jararacussu snakes belong to the pit viper subfamily.
Study author Rafael Guido said: “This is the first step in a long journey. The process is a very long one.”
“We found that the peptides in the venom not only inhibited the growth of the virus in vitro, inside cells, but also inhibited one of the proteins that play an important role in the reproduction of the virus. virus,” said Mr. Guido.
Mr. Guido said the peptide, or chain of amino acids, can be synthesized in the laboratory, so there is no need to capture or raise snakes.
However, Giuseppe Puorto, a reptile expert and biological collection manager at the Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo, worries that many people will go out looking for the deadly venomous snake. This is one of the largest snakes in Brazil, nearly 2m long.
He said: “We were afraid that people would hunt down jararacussu all over Brazil, thinking it would save the world or themselves and their families. But it is not. Is this an important discovery? ? Absolutely. But hunting animals is not the way to handle a pandemic.”
A statement from Sao Paulo State University said the researchers will next assess how effective different doses of the molecule are and whether it can prevent the virus from entering cells in the first place. are not. They also hope to soon test the substance in human cells, but have not given a specific timeline.