Local research findings to aid in development of treatment for COVID-19

Research findings provide new insights to how coronavirus works
UW-Madison researchers prepare to return to in-person work at the labs (Courtesy: Morgridge...
UW-Madison researchers prepare to return to in-person work at the labs (Courtesy: Morgridge Institute for Research)(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 8:02 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - UW-Madison announced Tuesday that scientists from the university and the Morgridge Institute for Research have been able to capture “strikingly improved images” of a virus group, which could help aid in the creation of antiviral drugs and treatment for COVID-19.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is known as a positive-strand RNA virus due to its unique way of storing and making copies of its genetic material.

According to UW-Madison, other important pathogens such as the Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses are also part of this same group - the largest of six genetic classes of viruses, according to the press release.

The new research was led by Paul Ahlquist, director of the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology at the Morgridge Institute and professor of oncology and molecular virology at UW–Madison and was published July 20, 2020. UW-Madison says this new research was built upon research he led in 2017 that revealed the existence of a crown-like viral RNA replication complex.

UW-Madison says the new research was successful in its use of a technique called cryoelectron microscope (cryo-EM) tomography to drastically improve the resolution of images of the replication crown complex.

“Such advances will reveal in increasing detail how these complexes assemble and operate, and thus how they might be best attacked,” Ahlquist explains in the press release. “These insights should provide the basis for novel, stronger antiviral mechanisms.”

The findings are said by UW-Madison researchers to also provide a foundation for further experimentation in an attempt define the replication complex structure and function at even higher levels.

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