SÃO PAULO – Researchers from São Paulo universities have identified a protein present in the venom of the jararacuçu snake that can help in the treatment of Covid-19. The identified peptide, that is, a part of the protein, inhibited by 75% the ability of the virus to replicate in monkey cells. The study by the São Paulo State University Júlio de Mesquita Filho (Unesp), in Araraquara (SP), was published in the scientific journal Molecules, on August 12th.
Professor at the Institute of Chemistry Eduardo Maffud, one of those responsible for the study, explains that the research group had already identified toxins in jararacuçu venom that had antibacterial activity. “As covid advanced, we positioned several of our peptides to see if they had activity against SARS-CoV-2. Fortunately, we got this interesting result”, said the researcher.
According to the researcher, a possible remedy with the discovered compound, by slowing down the replication of the covid-19 virus, would give the body more time to act and create the antibodies necessary to resist the disease. “This is still in progress, it would need additional studies, but we saw that this peptide prevents the replication or multiplication of viral particles”, adds Maffud.
The researchers are also going to assess the efficiency of different dosages of the molecule, and whether it can exert protective functions in the cell, which could even prevent the invasion of the virus in the body.
According to Maffud, the studies will continue with the identification of other targets on which this peptide can act and in improving the activity of this molecule, so that in vivo tests can be carried out in guinea pigs, such as mice. “If the result is positive, we will develop a treatment.”
In addition to scientists from Unesp, the work involved researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP), the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp). “It was a multidisciplinary work, showing that the union of research groups in Brazil can yield very interesting results”, highlighted the professor from Unesp.
This type of snake can reach up to two meters in length and its dorsal color varies from gray, pink, yellow, brown or black, with dark brown triangular spots. In addition to Brazil, the snake can also be found in Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. This reptile is much feared for the amount of venom it is capable of injecting, and the person who suffers a bite may experience bleeding, swelling and tissue destruction in the bite region.