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Scientists investigate solutions for building cell membrane defense against COVID-19


Researchers from Virginia Tech and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are using neutron scattering to investigate how the cell membrane and the virus impact each other and what therapeutic candidates could make cell membranes more resistant to viral entry. Such information could help experts design strategies for slowing down the progress of viral infection and reducing its harmful effects.

“For a virus to be active it has to go through the cell membrane,” said Rana Ashkar, an assistant professor in physics at Virginia Tech and former ORNL Shull Fellow who is leading the research effort. “Much of the work that has been done is focused on inactivating the spike protein itself. However, we want to understand how the spike protein interacts with the membrane and what treatments could indirectly block this interaction by targeting the properties of the membrane.”