New Delhi | Jagran World Desk: Amid speeding up COVID-19 vaccination around the world, the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate to bring-in more transmissible – if not infectious – waves with it. The question that whether the world is at the end of pandemic or not, evokes moot responses from health authorities worldwide.

However, scientists at Northwestern Medicine and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have identified natural nano-bubbles containing the ACE2 protein (evACE2) in the blood of COVID-19 patients and discovered these nano-sized particles can block infection from broad strains of SARS-CoV-2 virus in preclinical studies.

The study was published in 'Nature Communications'.

What is ACE2 protein?

The ACE2 protein (evACE2) imitates a near-ideal COVID-19 response in the body. This, scientists say can serve as a therapeutic to be developed for prevention and treatment for current and future strains of SARS-CoV-2 and future coronaviruses.

The evACE2 proteins are tiny lipid (fat) bubbles in nanoparticle size that express the ACE2 protein, like handles onto which the virus can grab. These bubbles acted as decoys to lure the SARS-CoV-2 virus away from the ACE2 protein on cells, which was how the virus infected cells. The virus spike protein grabbed the handle of evACE2 instead of cellular ACE2, preventing it from entering the cell. Once captured, the virus would either float harmlessly around or be cleared by a macrophage immune cell. At that point, it could no longer cause infection.

‘Biological treatment with minimum toxicities’

Scientists say that once developed as a therapeutic product, it can benefit human beings as a biological treatment with minimal toxicities.

The evACE2 nano bubbles exist as ‘natural anti-viral response’

The evACE2 nano bubbles exist in human blood as a natural anti-viral response. The more severe the disease, the higher the levels of evACE2 detected in the patient's blood.

"Our mouse studies demonstrate the therapeutic potential of evACE2 in preventing or blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection when it is delivered to the airway via droplets," the study’s co-senior author Dr. Huiping Liu, an associate professor of pharmacology and of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician.

Posted By: Mukul Sharma