Six unique plant molecules have shown the ability to halt the alarming multiplication of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) modelling used by a city-based pharma company.
Commonly called coronavirus, the microbe causing the Covid-19 disease has no known cure. But Dr Hrishikesh Damle, managing director of Atrimed Pharmaceuticals, cited a study conducted by his company to assert that the virus could be stopped in its tracks.
“After international researchers published the genomics of the Sars-CoV-2 virus on December 30, we realised that 96% of the virus’ spike glycoprotein that starts the infection is like SARS,” Dr Damle said.
Researchers of his company have created a computer model of the spike glycoprotein and ran it against the firm’s library of 4,08,000 plant molecules in digital simulation.
“We learnt that six molecules and four antibiotics could stop the virus from multiplying,” Dr Damle said.
Using the spike glycoprotein, the SARS-CoV-2 virus sticks to the ACE-2 receptors in the human cell to access the cell apparatus and multiply.
“If (in some ways) you could jeopardise this process, it is possible that you could stop the virus from multiplying. This method is intended to halt the virus’ progress, though it can’t kill the microbe,” Dr Damle said.
He said the molecules could function like coins in a keyhole to thwart the locking process. “We are trying to slip the molecule to stop the virus from latching on to the cell,” he said.
While the molecular dynamics simulation had shown the plant molecules easily binding to ACE-2 receptors, water, pH and even the competing
molecules could interfere with the process in real-life situations.Dr Damle said an in-vitro study is needed to check how it works in the
actual life situation.
The company has written to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), seeking permission to test the finding at the laboratory of the National Institute of Virology (NIV). “We are yet to hear from them,” Dr Damle said.