Popularization of research advances on COVID-19

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A SARS-CoV-2 replicon: a useful system for studying the virus

In order to fight SARS-CoV-2 and equip ourselves with effective therapies, we need to study and test candidate treatments. It is, however, complicated to use the virus in cell culture, mainly for safety reasons. This is a contagious and dangerous virus and it is best to avoid handling it. Researchers at the Universities of Rockefeller […]


How convergence strengthens the virus

  At the beginning of the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2 infected people who had never met with any kind of similar virus, and who therefore had no antibodies adapted to the situation. It then became more transmissible due to the rapid appearance of the D416G mutation (in the spike) and the P323L mutation (in the polymerase). A […]


How structural mutations in the spike explain the increased strength of variants

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of variants of SARS-CoV-2 have appeared. Amongst them are variants of concern, (VOC), which have acquired several biological advantages: better transmissibility, increased virulence, resistance to neutralising antibodies acquired through vaccination or by natural infection, and the ability to evade treatments and some detection methods. These properties […]


Genetic factors in SARS-CoV-2 infection

One of the most remarkable characteristics of infection by SARS-CoV-2 is the large range of symptoms that it can cause, from asymptomatic infection to people dying from respiratory distress. Although we already know that environmental and social factors play an important role in people’s sensitivity to SARS-CoV-2, the role of genetic factors has just recently […]


A single mutation could have enabled transmission to humans

The recent emergence of SARS-CoV (2003), MERS-CoV (2013) and SARS-CoV-2 (2020) has demonstrated the severe risk of epidemic posed by coronaviruses. Many isolated strains present in bats or pangolins are very close to SARS-CoV-2 (>96% homology in RaTG13), which suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has its origins in animals. However, the mechanisms responsible for the […]


Asian bats may host many coronaviruses

The majority of human viruses originate in animals. Bats in particular make up a significant viral reservoir (as shown in the Ebola, Marburg, Corona and Rage viruses) while accounting for 22% of mammal species, with 1420 varities. In 2019, 6 human coronaviruses (HCoVs) were known: HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-HKU1, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. At the beginning […]


Another coronavirus could reach humans

SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus identified and isolated at the beginning of 2020, has now spread throughout the world. By the 5th of March 2021, the WHO (World Health Organisation) had registered more than 114 million people infected, with 2,5 million deaths. SARS-CoV-2 seems to closely resemble the coronavirus found in bats, suspected of being a […]


Tracking the ribosome

The viral genome (of the RNA in the case of SARS-CoV-2) is made up of about 30,000 nucleobases of 4 types, repeated to form a code. To read it, use must be made of a ribosome, that is, a large protein that moves along the RNA. In the case of infection, the cell’s ribosomes are […]


New targets on the spike

 Vaccines and other treatments against COVID-19 are already available, while others are still being developed. The principal target of these vaccines and of treatments that use therapeutic antibodies is the spike (S) viral protein. This protein, situated on the surface of the virus, is trimeric (an assemblage of 3 proteins) and enables the virus to […]


Transmission and diversity of SARS-CoV-2

Like all viruses, and in particular RNA viruses, SARS-CoV-2 makes errors in the replication of its genome, which causes mutations and the appearance of new variants. These mutations can give the virus a selective advantage (increase in transmissibility or evasion of the immune response). This is case with the UK variant, which seems to be […]

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