Bonn/Germany, March 23rd, 2020. The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is actively contributing to the efforts to limit and neutralise the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. The DZNE has therefore started to apply its resources for studies on disease mechanisms associated with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In this, the DZNE cooperates with other research centers of the Helmholtz Association and with university clinics.
Finding a drug to treat or prevent “Covid-19”, the pulmonary disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, will require knowledge on the molecular mechanisms involved in the disease. This applies in particular to the question of how the germ enters human cells. “In the search for medicines against the coronavirus, we therefore contribute our expertise in single-cell omics and knowledge in human immunology and cell pathophysiology”, said Prof. Pierluigi Nicotera, the DZNE’s Scientific Director and Chairman of its Executive Board. “DZNE scientists have already begun to map the virus receptor ACE2 and the protease TMPRSS2 that enables the fusion of the virus with cell membranes. This will help for identifying drugs that interfere with SARS-CoV-2.”
Furthermore, the DZNE has started to screen existing, commercially available drugs for their potential use in therapies against SARS-CoV-2. This is done in laboratory tests that allow high-precision single-cell analysis.
“It is premature to discuss results at the moment”, Nicotera emphasizes. “But we see it as our obligation to contribute to overcoming this health crisis to the best of our abilities.”