A.Prof Megan O'Mara - ABC NEWS Coronavirus restrictions closed Canberra universities, and it's affecting industries around the world

Publication date
Thursday, 30 Apr 2020

Extract from the ABC News article

....For the last decade, Dr O'Mara's research had focused on finding a way to suppress a single amino acid transporter known as B0AT-1, a component of diabetes, which happens to be "part of the receptor complex for COVID-19".

"Companies have been trying to work out how to develop something that inhibits B0AT-1," Dr O'Mara said.

"Now it just so happened that we were [looking] at drugs that bound with B0AT-1, and then in February this year everyone found out that B0AT-1 was part of the receptor complex for COVID-19."

With permission to use the ANU's supercomputer, which is necessary to conduct simulations as part of their potentially life-saving work, the team was able to start work on coronavirus immediately.

Dr O'Mara said they were using simulations to examine how the proteins within the cells of coronavirus were operating, all the while looking for a way to inhibit their growth.

"What we're doing with our computer simulations is seeing how they move and seeing how different drugs and inhibitors stop them from moving," she said.

"So if we can find something that then inhibits this receptor complex and stops the virus from fusing with the host cell we should be able to hopefully find something that will stop it from infecting us," she said.

She said it was a "really exciting" time for their team, who were each working from home but relying on video conferencing for daily meetings.

"I feel incredibly fortunate that we've been able to continue our work on this and that we haven't been as impacted as some of the experimental groups who unfortunately aren't able to continue in their labs," she said.

To read the article in full https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-30/coronavirus-canberra-uni-closure-researchers-abandon-lab-work/12189838 

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