Folio – SARS-CoV-2 uses sugars to invade human cells, new study shows

SARS-CoV-2 uses sugars to invade human cells, new study shows

U of A Folio Press Release

Understanding the process could help scientists look out for new, more infectious variants, say U of A researchers.


Sugars found on the surface of human cells influence COVID-19 infection, according to a University of Alberta-led study that is one of the first to observe this relationship and suggests that cells in the brain might be particularly susceptible.

“The idea here is that the virus is leveraging or using the host glycans, or the host sugars, to gain access to the cells,” said Matthew Macauley, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Chemical Glycoimmunology. “This mode of action of viral entry is not unprecedented,” he said. “What is a surprise, though, is that it hadn’t really been detected.”

Territorial Acknowledgement

The University of Alberta, its buildings, labs, and research stations are primarily located on the traditional territory of Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, and Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe nations; lands that are now known as part of Treaties 6, 7, and 8 and homeland of the Métis. The University of Alberta respects the sovereignty, lands, histories, languages, knowledge systems, and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit nations.

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