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How the coronavirus multiplies its genetic material

When someone becomes infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen proliferates rapidly in the cells of the infected person. To do so, the virus has to multiply its genetic material, which consists of a single long RNA strand. This task is performed by the viral "copy machine," the so-called polymerase. Researchers led by Patrick Cramer at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, have now determined the 3-D structure of the corona polymerase. This makes it now possible to investigate how antiviral drugs such as remdesivir—which blocks the polymerase—work, and to search for new inhibitory substances. "In view of the current pandemic we wanted to help," Max Planck Director Cramer says. "We have extensive experience in studying polymerases." It was therefore obvious to the scientists what project to choose. "We were surprised to find that the structure of the coronavirus polymerase is special—it differs from other structures that we have been investigating so far," explains Hauke Hillen.  Read more....

 

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