Purpose of the STSM: Professor Xaveer Van Ostade is world-class scientist in the field of virus – host cell interaction, specialist in the difficult analysis of protein complexes anchored within plasma membrane.
Limiting the infection in its early phase, i.e., at the cell entry stage, may be considered superior to other phases, as it also protects neighbouring cells from the destructive inflammatory stress.
As viruses easily adapt to cells, choosing the right model for study is crucial to obtain reliable and biologically relevant results: the poorly suited in vitro model will generate results with low translation ability to the context of actual human infection. Moreover, choosing the therapy targets among the host cells’ factors instead of virus constituents increases the chance of prolonged efficacy of the therapy; as it does not affect the virus directly, it is more difficult for the virus to adapt to these changes.
Identification of the factors indispensable for virus entry at the protein level and precise targeting them at RNA level (with antisense oligonucleotides), before they even form, seems to be a particularly clever way to nip the infection in the bud.

The goal of this STSM was to identify host-derived protein complexes that make up the entry platforms for SARS-CoV-2 to the primary cells of human airway epithelium (HAE).

Grantee name: Katarzyna Owczarek

STSM start and end date: 30/09/2022 to 30/10/2022

Title: Target identification for antiviral therapy drugs
Host lab: Prof. Xaveer Van Ostade, University of Antwerp (Antwerp, Belgium)