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Papers of the Week

2020 Sep 01

Saudi Pharm J

Current approaches used in treating COVID-19 from a molecular mechanisms and immune response perspective.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. SARS-CoV-2 targets the respiratory system, resulting in symptoms such as fever, headache, dry cough, dyspnea, and dizziness. These symptoms vary from person to person, ranging from mild to hypoxia with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and sometimes death. Although not confirmed, phylogenetic analysis suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may have originated from bats; the intermediary facilitating its transfer from bats to humans is unknown. Owing to the rapid spread of infection and high number of deaths caused by SARS-CoV-2, most countries have enacted strict curfews and the practice of social distancing while awaiting the availability of effective U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications and/or vaccines. This review offers an overview of the various types of coronaviruses (CoVs), their targeted hosts and cellular receptors, a timeline of their emergence, and the roles of key elements of the immune system in fighting pathogen attacks, while focusing on SARS-CoV-2 and its genomic structure and pathogenesis. Furthermore, we review drugs targeting COVID-19 that are under investigation and in clinical trials, in addition to progress using mesenchymal stem cells to treat COVID-19. We conclude by reviewing the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccine development. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of how SARS-CoV-2 interacts with host cells and stimulates the immune response is extremely important, especially as scientists look for new strategies to guide their development of specific COVID-19 therapies and vaccines.