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Recombinant lectins as pioneering anti-viral agents against COVID-19


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Abstract

The primary target for vaccine design and anti-viral therapeutics for the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the coronavirus surface spike (S) glycoprotein which is the main target of neutralizing antibodies. However, S glycoproteins are masked by highly conserved N-linked glycan shield to evade antibody-mediated neutralization. This protective glycan shield is shared by many glycan-containing enveloped viruses. Paradoxically, lectins can make these sugar-coated viruses vulnerable to immune attack by dismantling the glycan shields. Therefore, binding of recombinant lectins to viruses could represent a paradigm shift for viral infection therapy. Recombinant lectins that target virus-associated glycans have the potential to be used as anti-viral agents. Likewise, SARS-CoV-2-associated glycans can offer novel targets for recombinant lectins as innovative anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents. Unfortunately, pharmacological hurdles currently constrain the entry of recombinant lectins into clinical trials but more vigorous research into potentially useful modifications of these agents can truly develop a new landscape of anti-viral lectin-based therapeutics.

Keywords

immunoglobulin, glycans, coronavirus 2

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