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Under the hood of Covid-19: The virus, proteins, vaccines, new mutations and possible antiviral drugs

Time: Thu 2021-10-28 09.15 - 10.00

Location: FR4

Participating: Erik Lindahl, Professor of Biophysics, Dept. Biochemistry & Biophysics, Stockholm University

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None of us have been unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic and many tragic deaths over the last 18 months, but despite the dire circumstances there is also a lot of interesting science both related to the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, how the infection happens (why is it so efficient to wash our hands for this particular virus?), and how scientists as well as the pharmaceutical industry have worked both on vaccines and general antiviral drugs. This talk is based on an overview I first presented internally at IVA last spring, and I will start by presenting how the genetic information is encoded by this particular virus in less than 30,000 base pairs (1/100000 of a human genome) and how we for the first time ever have been able to track the mutations and geographical spread of different strains in close to real time across the globe. We will have a look at a few of the key proteins responsible for infection and copying the protein, how these have been used as targets for vaccines, why teams (partly including ours) have investigated ways to develop more general antiviral drugs that will also work after infection using computational tools, but also how new mutants are making both these efforts harder (and why viruses are so smart to change their composition in the right places).