We all knew that a viper’s venom is deadly but who knew that it could probably be a cure for Covid-19? Read ahead to find more about the prospect of this latest research that could be a game-changer in the fight against Covid-19.
Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have identified a molecule present in the jararacussu pit viper’s venom that can kill the Coronavirus’ PLPro enzyme and hence prevent it from multiplying.
Combating and finding the Covid-19 cure has been a massive challenge for the medical fraternity and the pharmaceutical industry since 2020. Ever since the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, scientists from every corner of the world have dedicated themselves to finding a breakthrough cure for Covid-19.
From the initial days, medical practitioners have tried odd combinations of existing drugs and therapeutic protocols to treat patients with Covid-19 infections. Clinical management of Covid-19 has been attempted worldwide with various classes of medications starting from antimalarials (Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine) to H2 receptor antagonists (Famotidine), broad-spectrum anti-parasitic drugs (Ivermectin), corticosteroids, immunomodulators, antiretrovirals, and whatnot!
Research at the University of Sao Paulo to find Covid-19 cure
A study was conducted by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo to test the efficacy of the viper snake species’ venom on monkeys. The research findings have been published this month in the scientific journal Molecules. In an interview with the news agency, Reuters, Rafael Guido, a professor and an author of the study said that the peptide molecule in the Brazilian viper’s venom was able to inhibit the Coronavirus’ reproduction in the host (monkey) by 75%. However, the venom molecule did not harm the host body’s cells and only targeted the virus’ PLPro enzyme. If the virus’ multiplication can be stopped then Covid-19 can be cured easily.
The chain of amino acids in the Brazilian viper’s venom has also shown promising antibacterial qualities in earlier studies. One interesting fact about the peptide molecule is that it can be lab synthesized. Therefore, it eliminates the need for capturing the snakes from their wild habitat to isolate the protein molecule. Adding to this, herpetologist of Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute’s Biological Collection said that the venom of the jararacussu is not the anti-Covid drug exactly but a protein molecule present in it. Hence there is no need of hunting down the snakes for its venom.
After initial success, researchers will next study the efficacy of different doses of the molecule in the host. It will also be evaluated if it is possible to completely prevent the virus infection. The study is then aimed to progress to human trials phases.
This study has opened new doors of hope in humanity’s battle against the deadly virus, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 vaccine’s ineffectiveness being reported from countries worldwide. British scientists have found that the impact of two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are appearing to become ineffective in six months. On the other hand, many other vaccines are not showing promising defense against newer strains of the virus.
University of Sao Paolo, Brazil
The University of Sao Paulo in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo is the largest Brazilian public university which was founded in 1934. USP is among the world’s top universities and was placed at rank 70. It operates four hospitals and the University of Sao Paulo Medical School Public Hospital is a seat of teaching, medical training, and advanced research. Besides this, USP has 42 libraries and a number of museums and art galleries on the central campus.
Bothrops jararacussu is a highly poisonous pit viper snake species native to the continent of South America with a geographical distribution in coastal Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. Mostly found in Atlantic forests, semi-deciduous forests, and swamps along river banks, this species of snake is severely dreaded. It can grow up to lengths of 2.2 meters and has fangs of 2.5 centimeters. Having a nocturnal hunting pattern, the Brazilian viper venom contains cytotoxins, hemotoxins, and myotoxins.
Is there a cure for Covid-19?
Well, nobody is certain at the moment but attempts are being carried on to find a drug to treat Covid-19 patients so that the world can soon return to a state of normalcy and mask-free breathing. Mutations in the spike protein of the virus is already challenging the vaccines developed for the novel Coronavirus. Therefore, a drug derived from the Brazilian viper venom might kill the Covid-19 virus and help patients recover better and faster.