Biotechnology: University Of Virginia Create New Open-Access Platform To Aid In COVID-19 Drug And Vaccine Development
: University Of Virginia’s biomedical experts in collaboration with international biotech professionals and entities have created a new online open-access platform that will help researchers and scientists working with COVID-19 drug and vaccine development better understand the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus about the structural models they are using in their research. https://covid-19.bioreproducibility.org/
The project lead by Dr Wladek Minor, from University Of Virginia’s School of Medicine and other top structural biologists have led an international team of scientists to investigate the protein structures contained in the virus structures that are vital to developing treatments and vaccines.
The biotech team has created a open-access online platform that provides scientists an easy way to see the progress of the structural biology community in this area. It also includes the team’s assessment of the quality of the individual models and enhanced versions of these structures, when possible.
Dr Minor, who is with University Of Virginia’s Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics told Thailand Medical News, “We have carefully analyzed the available models of SARS-CoV-2 proteins and present the results with the aim of helping the broad biomedical community. Structural models are ultimately the interpretation of the original researchers and sometimes are suboptimal. This is why a second set of eyes to validate important structures is so crucial. In most cases, only minor corrections could be suggested. However, in several cases, the revisions were significant, especially in the sensitive area of protein-ligand complexes that are critical for follow-up research, like drug discovery work. The current health crisis demands that all SARS-CoV-2 structures are of the highest quality possible.”
Upon being alerted to the threat of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus, many scientists worldwide responded at an unprecedented pace to determine the atomic structure of the virus and its protein constituents.
The biotech team are using the resulting structural models in a variety of applications, ranging from structure-based drug design to planning a range of biomedical experiments. For that reason, it is essential that the atomic models are as accurate as possible. Because of the urgency of the pandemic, most of these structures are deposited in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), a global repository of macromolecular structures, before publication and peer review.
Various members of the project team, who are experts in structure validation and interpretation, noticed opportunities to improve several SARS-CoV-2 models using state-of-the-art refinement approaches. That led them to create the new web resource. It is updated with new structures weekly, in sync with the PDB.
In certain cases, the team has worked with the researchers who generated the original structure to ensure that the site contains the most accurate models. This team has longstanding experience in correcting biomedically important structural models for instance, in the field of antibiotic resistance.
Dr Minor further added, “Working on a project dri
ven by strong international collaborations is an enormous opportunity for younger scientists, like Dr Ivan Shabalin from the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia, and Dr Dariusz Brzezinski from the Institute of Computing Science, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland who will undoubtedly lead other highly impactful studies in the near future.”
Dr Shabalin added, “It is extremely rewarding to be able to add my expertise to a project that has the potential to make an immense impact on the lives of millions of people.”
The team’s research is published in the publication: The FEBS Journal. https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/febs.15366
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