SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 diseases will probably be the targets of the largest and most sophisticated investigative process ever developed. In a short time, vaccines manage to contain serious disease states, stopping mortality and various studies can lead to revolutionary medicine and discovery, from the perspective of global consumption. After the spray vaccine, now there is an innovation that relies on an enzyme made by fireflies.
According to UFSCar researchers, it is possible to combine the molecule into a protein that can bind to the new coronavirus. Thus, the presence of antibodies against the microorganism can be confirmed by light emission.
Firefly can be important in detecting COVID-19
By combining an enzyme found in fireflies with a protein that can bind to the new coronavirus, researchers at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) have developed a new strategy for detecting the virus.
The enzyme used in the study belongs to the class of luciferases, whose job it is to catalyze reactions that convert chemical energy into light energy - a phenomenon commonly known as bioluminescence. Of all known luciferases, that produced by firefly Amydetes vivianii is one of those that produces the brightest and most stable bioluminescence.
The insect was found on the UFSCar campus in Sorocaba and was named in honor of Professor Vadim Viviani, who discovered the species and cloned the DNA that codes for this firefly's luciferase into bacteria. The researcher also examined the molecular structure and functions of the enzyme.
We take our brightest luciferase and genetically engineer it into a protein that can bind to antibodies. If antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 are present in the sample, binding occurs, which can be detected by light emission.
Viviani told Agência FAPESP.
The presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific proteins, which indicate an infection, can also be detected by the bioluminescent molecule in the presence of specific antibodies.
Investigation already with the patent applied for
Researcher Vadim Viviani says that he has already applied for a patent for the new bioluminescent system with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). And he says the study is so new that the article describing it is still in the drafting phase.
We have successfully tested the method for various antibodies that can be detected by techniques such as immunoblots and western blots.