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Plant Compounds Inhibit Key SARS-CoV-2 Enzyme

Plants use certain chemical compounds to ward off disease. According to a new study conducted by plant biologists at North Carolina State University, compounds found in green tea, muscadine grapes, dark chocolate and cacao powder inhibit the function of a protease called Mpro in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

While proteases are responsible for a variety of beneficial actions in healthy cells, they are also involved in cell replication. In the presence of these protective plant chemicals, the Mpro protease is deactivated, preventing viral replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in healthy cells.

The researchers found that these compounds overwhelmed the Mpro protease by binding to multiple sites within the enzyme. In the case of green tea, at least five compounds demonstrated this effect. The compounds found in two varieties of muscadine grapes were also successful, while those found in cacao powder and dark chocolate reduced Mpro activity by half.

"Mpro has a portion that is like a 'pocket' that was 'filled' by the chemical compounds," notes De-Yu Xie, professor of plant and microbial biology at NC State and the corresponding author of the study. "When this pocket was filled, the protease lost its important function. If we can inhibit or deactivate this protease, the virus will die."


NC State University: Chemical Compounds in Foods Can Inhibit a Key SARS-CoV-2 Enzyme


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