New nanomaterial capable of capturing and inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

New nanomaterial capable of capturing and inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

UAB researchers have developed a new biocompatible protein-based nanomaterial with the ability to selectively capture and neutralize SARS-CoV-2. The new structure has potential as a functional surface layer, and its modularity allows it to be adapted to recognize and combat other viruses.



Molecular model of the nanofiber. In blue, the inner amyloid backbone that supports the structure, and in pink, the outer small proteins that bind the spike protein (It rises) from SARS-CoV-2.


The new biomaterial was developed by Protein Folding and Conformational Diseases Research Groupdirected by Salvador Ventura, researcher at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB). Their study was published in the journal Journal of Colloids and Interfaces Science.

The researchers designed a nanofiber inspired by the structure of amyloid aggregates found naturally in Sup35, a yeast protein. To this protein, two small proteins (LCB1 and LBC3) were genetically engineered to bind to the spike protein (It rises) to SARS-CoV and prevent its interaction with the cell receptor ACE2, a crucial step for the virus to enter cells.

“The supramolecular scaffold we created spontaneously self-assembles while maintaining its structural integrity and function, and has potent activity to capture and neutralize SARS-CoV-2, with an efficiency comparable to or superior to that of therapeutic antibodies,” he notes. Out of Salvador Ventura

The research team demonstrated the function of the nanofibers as a biocompatible surface layer in wet environments as a proof of concept by incorporating them into a polymeric material.

The researchers point out that the applications of the new nanomaterials are very diverse. They could be used to contain the spread of the virus and increase the safety of personal protective equipment. They could also be used to replace antibodies in current tests, since they are less expensive to produce, to concentrate and isolate viral particles in individual tests or to take environmental samples.

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Another advantage of nanofibers is their modular design, which allows them to be easily adapted to recognize and neutralize other types of viruses, by changing the small proteins in the structure. This opens up a wide range of possibilities for the development of new surfaces with antiviral properties.

The IBB-UAB research group had already developed a first generation of nanomaterials two years ago with a similar principle to the one they applied in this study. The designed nanofibers now have different properties and shape, which demonstrates “the great potential of structures based on genetically modified amyloids for the development of innovative solutions in biotechnology and biomedicine,” concludes Salvador Ventura.

Reference article:Moloud Behbahanipour, Susana Navarro, Oriol Barcenas, Javier Garcia Pardo, Salvador Ventura. “Bioengineered Self-Assembled Nanofibers for High Affinity Capture and Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2.” Journal of Colloids and Interfaces Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcis.2024.06.175.

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