Abstract: No other virus after the outbreak of the influenza pandemic of 1918 affected the world’s population as hard as the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The identification of effective agents/materials to prevent or treat COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent global need. This review aims to survey novel strategies based on inorganic polyphosphate (polyP), a biologically formed but also synthetically available polyanionic polymeric material, which has the potential of being a potent inhibitor of the SARS-CoV-2 virus-cell-docking machinery. This virus attaches to the host cell surface receptor ACE2 with its receptor binding domain (RBD), which is present at the tips of the viral envelope spike proteins. On the surface of the RBD an unusually conserved cationic groove is exposed, which is composed of basic amino acids (Arg, Lys, and His). This pattern of cationic amino acids, the cationic groove, matches spatially with the anionic polymeric material, with polyP, allowing an electrostatic interaction. In consequence, the interaction between the RBD and ACE2 is potently blocked. PolyP is a physiological inorganic polymer, synthesized by cells and especially enriched in the blood platelets, which releases metabolically useful energy through enzymatic degradation and coupled ADP/ATP formation. In addition, this material upregulates the steady-state-expression of the mucin genes in the epithelial cells. We propose that polyP, with its two antiviral properties (blocking the binding of the virus to the cells and reinforcing the defense barrier against infiltration of the virus) has the potential to be a novel protective/therapeutic anti-COVID-19 agent.

An unexpected biomaterial against SARS-CoV-2: Bio-polyphosphate blocks binding of the viral spike to the cell receptor
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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2021.07.029