Can hrsACE2 (human recombinant soluble ACE2) be used to treat COVID-19?

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Bottom Line:

hrsACE2 can significantly block early stages of infection by preventing SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) from entering cells. More clinical studies will be required to determine if it can be used to treat COVID-19.


Monteil V. et al., Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections in engineered human tissues using clinical-grade soluble human ACE2. Cell, in press (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.004

Date Published:

2 April 2020


Scientists around the world are collaborating to look for treatments for the COVID-19 disease causing the current global pandemic. A protein called angiontensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is of particular interest. ACE2 is found on the surface of lung cells, heart cells, kidney cells, blood vessels, and the intestine. It has been shown that SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) attaches to ACE2 to enter human cells. This study investigated a drug called human recombinant soluble ACE2 (hrsACE2) on cells and tissues infected with SARS-CoV-2. They showed that the drug reduced the viral load (amount of virus in the cells) by 1000-5000 times and hypothesize that is does this by blocking the virus’s ability to bind to or enter lung cells. Importantly, this drug has already been shown to be safe in humans in past clinical trials and will soon be tested in clinical trials by a European biotechnology company.

Summary by: Megan Wheatley

Graphic by: Pouyan Namavarian