Scientists of the school of molecular engineering Pritzker name (PME) at the University of Chicago in the USA, identified already used a drug that is effective in the suppression of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. They also identified a previously unknown vulnerability in the virus, which can be useful for development of new strategies against COVID-19. About the discovery is reported in a new article published in the journal Science Advances.

Experts have used computer simulations to determine the most vulnerable component of the virus. It appeared to be protease Mpro, a key enzyme involved in RNA transcription and allows you to replicate its genome in the infected cell.

Anti-protease effect of the drug ebselen — synthetic chemical compound with antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. It is used to treat many diseases, including bipolar disorder and hearing loss. Ebselen in combination with silver is also used to fight against five antibiotic-resistant gram-negative bacteria. Several clinical trials have proven its safety for use on people.

Ebselen able to reduce the activity of Mpro in two different ways. It can communicate either with the catalytic site of the enzyme, or to a remote site, which affects the activity of the molecule.