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Coronavirus Research Focuses on RNA as Key to Developing New Treatments

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Binding of the coronavirus spike protein (red) to an ACE2 receptor (blue) on a human cell leads to t
Binding of the coronavirus spike protein (red) to an ACE2 receptor (blue) on a human cell leads to the penetration of the virus in the cell.

Viruses like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are able to unleash their fury because of a devious weapon: ribonucleic acid, also known as RNA.

A contingent of researchers at the University of Rochester – including award-winning RNA biologist Lynn Maquat, Ph.D., and Douglas Anderson with the Center for RNA Biology -- study the RNA of viruses to better understand how RNAs work and how they are involved in diseases. As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, RNA research provides an important foundation for developing antiviral drugs, vaccines, and other therapeutics to disrupt the virus and stop infections.

“Understanding RNA structure and function helps us understand how to throw a therapeutic wrench into what the COVID-19 RNA does—make new virus that can infect more of our cells and also the cells of other human beings,” said Maquat, a professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the director of the Center for RNA Biology.

Read about their research in the UR Newsroom >

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