The SARS-CoV2 virus is notorious for its characteristic spike protein that helps the virus to invade cells. Rebecca Wade and the Molecular and Cellular Modeling group at HITS use computational methods and simulations to investigate the mechanisms by which heparin and heparan sulfate proteoglycans interact with SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, and thereby affect host cell infection and host susceptibility. This research could impact the treatment of the viral infection because heparin is already used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients due to its anticoagulant properties and recent studies indicate the value of inhaled heparin for treating lung diseases.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding this research in their COVID-19 Focus Funding scheme in the project “meCocan – Towards a mechanistic understanding of the interaction of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein and host heparan sulphate proteoglycans”. The project is being pursued in collaboration with Giulia Paiardi and Marco Rusnati (University of Brescia, Italy).
Dr. Peter Saueressig
Head of Communications
HITS Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies
Prof. Dr. Rebecca Wade
Molecular and Cellular Modeling Group (MCM)
Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS)
Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – Projektnummer(458623378).
The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.