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EpiGentek Launches First-to-Market Kits to Detect SARS-CoV-2-Targeted Furin Activity and Screen for Inhibitors Against COVID-19

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 10 Jul 2020
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Image: EpiGentek Launches First-to-Market Kits to Detect SARS-CoV-2-Targeted Furin Activity and Screen for Inhibitors against COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of EpiGentek)
Image: EpiGentek Launches First-to-Market Kits to Detect SARS-CoV-2-Targeted Furin Activity and Screen for Inhibitors against COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of EpiGentek)
EpiGentek (Farmingdale, NY, USA) has released a series of SARS-CoV-2 research assays that focuses on studies of SARS-CoV-2 targeted furin or proprotein convertase (PC) cleavage activity.

These first-of-its-kind tools can be used to rapidly detect SARS-CoV-2 targeted PC and facilitated proteases using biological samples as well as screen for inhibitors of these enzymes that cleave SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Subsequent implications can be the effective development of drug candidates or therapeutic treatments.

The SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein harbors a furin/PC cleavage site at the boundary between the S1/S2 subunits, which could be cleaved by furin and/or furin-like PCs secreted from host cells and bacteria in the airway epithelium. Unlike the first SARS-CoV, cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 is pre-activated by furin and/or furin-like PCs, reducing its dependence on target cell proteases for entry. The cleavage activation of S-protein is well demonstrated to be essential for SARS-CoV-2 spike-mediated viral binding to ACE2, cell-to-cell fusion, and viral entry into human lung cells.

The first of the two kits by EpiGentek, CoviDrop SARS-CoV-2 Targeted Proprotein Convertase Inhibitor Screening Fast Kit, screens for inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 targeted furin and PCs. It is an ELISA-like procedure which can be completed within two hours. By using a SARS-CoV-2 specific substrate which is proven to be the same as the complete trimeric form of full length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in our tests with this kit, the SARS-coV-2 furin site was found to be cleaved not only by furin but also by other serine proteases such as plasmin and human airway trypsin (HAT).

The second kit, CoviDrop SARS-CoV-2 Targeted Proprotein Convertase Activity/Inhibition Assay Kit, quantitatively measures the activity or inhibition levels of furin or furin-like PC as well as facilitated proteases in biological samples such as nasal swabs. It is also similarly ELISA-based and needs only 50 minutes from start to finish. The CoviDrop kits are unique in the market and may be a key tool in better understanding of infection mechanisms and discovery of potent inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2. EpiGentek has also recently released a series of other assay kits to rapidly detect SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies and measure spike-ACE2 binding activity or inhibition.

"These highly demanded products enable academic and biotechnology to have a much-needed novel approach towards rapidly identifying prevention and therapy initiatives of SARS-CoV-2," said William Lee, EpiGentek's Chief Operating Officer.

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