Researchers from Hong Kong Baptist University identified a protease as a major host factor causing the infectivity of coronavirus in the human body, and the infection degree could be reduced by 80 percent if the protease's activity is blocked.
According to the research, the coronavirus
infection would lead to the increased activation of MT1-MMP, a protease crucial for many physiological processes and contribute to the virus hijacking host enzymes to enhance its infectivity and trigger multi-organ infections in the human body.
To examine MT1-MMP's functions, researchers applied a humanised antibody called 3A2 that can inhibit the activity of MT1-MMP.
They found that the antibody could significantly reduce the degree of infection of coronavirus
in human lung, heart and liver organoids by 60 to 80 percent.
The researchers further put 11 mice infected with Covid
as an experimental group and applied 3A2 in them. The results showed that 3A2 reduced the viral load of coronavirus
in the mice's bodies by almost 90 percent and dramatically alleviated lung tissue damage resulting from infection.
The research was led by Xavier Wong Hoi-leong, Assistant Professor of the Teaching and Research Division of the School of Chinese Medicine at HKBU, in collaboration with Yuan Shuofeng, Assistant Professor of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.
"3A2 has good potential to become an effective drug for curing Covid
," said Wong. "It can also offer protection against obesity and diabetes, two major risk factors for severe symptoms and mortality for Covid
He added that the antibody could be particularly suitable for high-risk groups, including older adults and people with metabolic disorders.
The study findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.