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12 Aug 2020 - Host cell signaling responses during SARS-CoV-2 infection reveal therapeutic targets.

New therapeutic targets preventing SARS-CoV-2 replication.

Researchers around IBC2 Group Leader Christian Münch comprehensively analyzed the response of human host cells to SARS-CoV-2 infection and identified growth factor receptor (GFR) signaling as essential for SARS-CoV-2 replication. GFR signaling plays important roles in various diseases. Five different drugs targeting GFR signaling prevented production of SARS-CoV-2 particles in cells. These results are now published in Molecular Cell.

The work was performed in close collaboration with the Quantitative Proteomics Unit at IBC2 and the Jindrich Cinatl group at the Institute of Medical Virology led by Sandra Ciesek. The team used state-of-the-art phospho proteomics techniques to monitor ~16,000 sites in cells and to characterize the intracellular signaling upon infection. Bioinformatics analysis revealed growth factor receptor signaling as important for SARS-CoV-2 replication and highly targetable by existing drugs. GFR signaling has been long studied in cancer patients and the team could show that transferring already existing drugs to SARS-CoV-2 infection blocks the viral proliferation in vitro. The study reveals possible therapeutic avenues for the treatment of COVID-19.