Neuropilin-1: a key receptor in SARS-CoV-2 infection

Results of a recent study by researchers at the University of Bristol indicate neuropilin-1 is an important host factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection. The team suggests that blocking neuropilin-1 may be a valuable therapeutic intervention in the treatment of COVID-19. Nikki Withers spoke to one of the study’s lead investigators, Dr Yohei Yamauchi, to hear more about their findings.


ALTHOUGH PANDEMICS associated with coronaviruses (CoVs) have led to fatalities in the past, COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise. “The main difference between the past CoV outbreaks and this one is that SARS-CoV-2 is able to transmit between humans much more easily than the others,” explained Yohei Yamauchi, a virologist from the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol in the UK.

His team, together with Peter Cullen and Boris Simonetti at the School of Biochemistry at Bristol, has potentially identified a mechanism that causes SARS-CoV-2 to be highly infectious and able to spread rapidly in human cells. Their findings, published in Science,1 describe how the virus’s ability to infect human cells can be reduced by inhibitors that block a newly discovered interaction between the virus and host, demonstrating a potential anti-viral treatment.

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