Academic Complex - IIT-Guwahati.(HT file Photo)
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Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Guwahati have developed methods to detect and prevent the novel coronavirus using interactions between the virus and the surface spike protein.

According to the research team, the novel coronavirus (SARS CoV-2) consists of an internal nucleic acid covered with surface spike glycoprotein, and the engineered surfaces can potentially be used to detect and prevent COVID-19. the disease caused by the virus.

“So far we have been using antibody-based assays and RT-PCR-based methods for testing during a pandemic. However, longer test times, costs, complex procedures, and false positive or negative results are some of the bottlenecks in these methods, ”Lalit M Pandey, Associate Professor in the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, told PTI.

“The interactions between the bio-interface spike protein and the surface can be studied to quickly detect the coronavirus,” he said.

“The interaction between the spike protein and the contact surfaces is the key step for the transmission of the coronavirus. On the one hand, the surface technology should enable a quick detection method and, on the other hand, it should be a very safe method of protection against the virus, for example when used on PPE, ”he added.

The team’s research on surface modifications and the analysis of the interactions between bio-interfaces (protein and surface) have been published in renowned journals such as Materials Science and Engineering C, Applied Surface Science, Langmuir, J. Phys. Chem. Science and Technology of C and ACS Biomaterials.

“We have developed an interesting method for surface modification by forming different self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on different surfaces, which, depending on the terminal functional groups with smooth surfaces on the nanoscale, lead to a broad spectrum of surface hydrophobicity. The formation of SAMs requires rapid attachment followed by a slow reorientation step, ”said Pandey.

“Mixed SAMs were made to make the surface with medium wettability. The rule of thumb of the increase in the amount of adsorbed protein with an increase in surface hydrophobicity does not apply to all systems. This is because protein adsorption is a complex process and depends on the hydrophobicity of both the surfaces and the proteins, ”he said.

Hydrophobicity is the physical property of a molecule that appears to be repelled by a body of water.

Research has shown that a protein adapts to different conformations depending on the surface properties.

“Thus, the properties of protein can be tuned through engineered surfaces for various applications including biosensors, implants and drug delivery. A recent special report suggested that the engineered sensor surface could be used in quartz crystal microbalance-based techniques known for mark-free, fast, real-time detection with sensitivity, ”said Pandey.

“The surface-based strategies not only offer the advantage of rapid virus detection from swab samples, but also allow the same surface to be reused over multiple cycles (samples),” he said.

“The role of newly developed surfaces, however, is to destabilize the viral coat protein through surface-protein interactions, to degrade the viruses and ultimately to inactivate them,” said Pandey.

“For example the surface treatment of personal protective equipment (PPE), which has antiviral properties and prevents the contagious coronavirus infections. The surfaces of PSA can be engineered to achieve strong surface-protein interactions, ”he said.

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