Institut de Biologie StructuraleGrenoble / France

IBS’s contribution to fighting the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus

The Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS) is mobilized to fight the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 disease. Several research groups tackle a number of projects related to :

The S glycoprotein

Since the beginning of April, a concerted action involving several groups of the IBS has started, with the aim of producing the Spike glycoprotein located on the membrane of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This collective action aims at hindering the virus’ attachment to cellular receptors and developp inhibitors. This project brings together people from the Fieschi group (M&P), Lortat-Jacob group (SAGAG), Poignard group (CAID), Thielens group (IRPAS) and Weissenhorn group (EBEV). The IBS electron microscopy platform is also involved as negative staining is used extensively to characterize samples produced by the 5 above-mentioned IBS groups. In addition, the instruments for molecular interaction measurements provided by the SPR/BLI platform will be used to characterize the interactions of the S glycoprotein with its partners/receptors.

First result

Development of nanoparticles as immunogens for vaccination strategies

Within the framework of the Flash Covid-19 call launched on March 06th by the ANR (the French project-based funding agency for research), the MEM group obtained an ANR funding for a project entitled ’CoV-Mime’, coordinated by P. Fender. This project is financially supported by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region. The Adenovirus team led by P. Fender and the electron microscopy platform led by G. Schoehn are involved in this project, which aims to develop non-infectious mimics of the surface of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on a non-infectious adenovirus nanoparticle with a view to vaccination or antiviral screening.

Analysis of the immune response

Within the framework of the Flash Covid-19 call, the ANR also selected the AM-Cov-Path project, coordinated by IDMIT, in which the Poignard group (Complement, antibodies and infectious diseases group) participates. This project focuses on the study of the pathogenesis of the SARS-Cov-2 infection and the role of antibodies in protection, in a pre-clinical study model. This study could contribute to understanding whether convalescent COVID-19 patients are protected against re-infection and to the development of vaccine candidates and monoclonal antibody therapies.

Participation in the international Covid19-NMR project

The Blackledge group (FDP) is participating in the international Covid19-NMR project, currently uniting research teams from 10 countries in Europe and North and South America. The consortium uses NMR to facilitate the identification of inhibitors of SARS-Cov-2 and to investigate the drugability of different protein and RNA targets. Results are immediately made available to the international community via the consortium web-site. The Blackledge group is also particularly interested in shedding new light on the essential replication actiivty of the nucleoprotein.

All lab-based activities are fully safety assessed before starting, and physical distancing and other safety rules have been set up to protect IBS staff’ safety and well-being.