Investigating SARS-CoV-2 Spike interactions with the cellular Ezrin protein as a potential novel therapeutic target for COVID-19
SARS-CoV-2 is a novel, highly infections virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to its rapid spread and high mortality rate, intense research efforts are focused on developing screening tests, antiviral therapies and vaccines. Further research is needed to understand how this virus interacts with host cells to infect them, replicate and release new virus to spread the disease. This project will study the interaction between the viral protein called Spike and a cellular protein called Ezrin. The intern will manipulate the EZRIN gene in cultured cells to determine if this Ezrin-Spike interaction is required for the SARS-CoV-2 viral life cycle. A biosensor will also be developed to identify small molecules which can block this Ezrin-Spike interaction. Results from this project will be used to develop antiviral drugs to treat COVID-19. Additionally, the path to develop new drugs can be expedited to clinical trials through our industry partner, Tika Therapeutics.