Nano-bubbles containing ACE2 protein can hinder contamination from wide strains of SARS-CoV-2

Nano-bubbles containing ACE2 protein can hinder contamination from wide strains of SARS-CoV-2


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  • Source: Northwestern University

  • Date: 21 Jan,2022

Northwestern Medicine and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discovered that natural nano-bubbles containing ACE2 protein (evACE2) were found in the blood of COVID-19 victims. They also discovered that these particles could block infection by broad strains of SARS/CoV-2 virus.

Scientists said that the evACE2 acts in the body as a decoy and could be used as a therapeutic to prevent and treat future SARS-CoV-2 strains and future coronaviruses. It can be used as a therapeutic drug and as a biological treatment for patients with low toxicities once it is developed.

This is the first study to demonstrate that evACE2 proteins can fight the new SARS/CoV-2 variants with a comparable or better efficacy to blocking the original strain. These evACE2 nanobubbles were discovered in the blood of human subjects as an antiviral natural response. Higher levels of evACE2 in blood will indicate a more severe disease.

The paper will appear in Nature Communications Jan. 20,

Whenever a new mutant strain of SARS-CoV-2 surges, the original vaccine and therapeutic antibodies may lose power against alpha, beta, delta and the most recent omicron variants. However, the beauty of evACE2 is its superpower in blocking broad strains of coronaviruses, including the current SARS-CoV-2 and even future SARS coronaviruses from infecting humans.”

Dr Huiping Liu, Study Co-Senior Author and Associate Professor of Pharmacology and of Medicine at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

“Our mouse studies demonstrate the therapeutic potential of evACE2 in preventing or blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection when it is delivered to the airway via droplets,” Liu said.

The evACE2 protein is a tiny lipid (fat bubble) that contains the ACE2 gene. It acts as handles for the virus to grab onto. These bubbles are used as decoys to entice the SARS-CoV-2 viruses away from the ACE2 proteins on cells. This is how the virus infects them. The virus spike protein grabs evACE2’s handle instead of cellular Ace2, stopping it from entering the cells. The virus can either be released or float around in the cell, depending on how it is captured. It can then no longer cause infection.

“The key takeaway from this study is the identification of naturally occurring extracellular vesicles in the body that express the ACE2 receptor on their surface and serve as part of the normal adaptive defense against COVID-19-causing viruses,” said co-senior author Dr. Raghu Kalluri, chair of cancer biology at MD Anderson. “Building upon this, we’ve discovered a way to harness this natural defense as a new potential therapy against this devastating virus.”

Journal reference:

El-Shennawy, L., et al. (2022) Circulating ACE2-expressing extracellular vesicles block broad strains of SARS-CoV-2. Nature

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