2.12.2020: Molecular Aspects of COVID-19

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Click here for the recordings of this event.

On Dec 2nd 2020 the first virtual event “Structural Biology Meets Clinic: Molecular aspects of COVID-19” took place. About 220 participants from various countries followed the presentations and discussions online. European guests were mainly from Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Greece. Many local guests from Austria attended as well as guests from Canada and the United States.

In the keynote, Sriram Subramaniam (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) gave a general overview for SARS-CoV-2 and its molecular architecture based on current research. He highlighted the advances in structural biology that are laying the foundation for the development of therapeutics and for the design of vaccines that can protect against future infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The short talks were moderated by Tobias Madl (Med Uni Graz & ISB) and Peter Schemmer (Med Uni Graz, Pres. of the Scientific Soc. of Med. Doctors in Styria):

Matt Sikora (MPI Frankfurt, Germany) explained how they combined cryo-electron tomography and molecular dynamics simulations to structurally characterise spike proteins on the surface of intact virions. Christian Löw (EMBL, Hamburg, Germany) talked about nanobodies from a synthetic library that target the receptor-binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and Chris Oostenbrink (BOKU, Vienna, Austria) described molecular dynamics simulations about glycans that influence Spike-ACE2 complex formation. Christian Gruber (Innophore & Uni Graz) spoke about large-scale virtual drug screening to identify SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors. SARS-CoV-2 infection in the context of gut and liver were then the main topics in the presentation by Vanessa Stadlbauer, and finally Horst Olschewski (both Med Uni Graz) gave an insight into his observation of endothelial dysfunction in CoVID pneumonia.

The interest of the audience was enormous, and the large number of questions could not all be answered immediately in the available time. Therefore, questions were also collected in an online questionnaire (Gustav Oberdorfer, Andreas Winkler, TU Graz & ISB) and some were answered by the speakers during the discussion, while the remaining ones were afterwards answered in writing in the online questionnaire.

A general discussion  and fruitful interdisciplinary exchange finalized the event and gave an even broader understanding of the  pandemic. The openness of the speakers about current research results, the willingness to pass on their knowledge paired with respect and interest made this bridging event a very special one.

Thank you to the speakers, the chairs and the audience for this interesting evening. This event was a successful start of our co-operation between the Scientific Society of Medical Doctors in Styria, ISB and the STI: Structural Biology (Angelika Krebs, Med Uni Graz).

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