The Severe COVID-19 Immune Response Pathway has been identified

The Severe COVID-19 Immune Response Pathway has been identified ...

Researchers at Yale have identified a particular immune response technique that results in severe illness and death in persons who have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study was published in the journal Nature on April 28.

Researchers have discovered that once the COVID-19 virus infects the lungs, it can trigger a cytokine storm or an overactive immune response that leads to deadly inflammation in the lungs. For the third study, a Yale team led by Esen Sefik, who is working on a senior author, investigated the consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice that were engineered to have a human immune system.

Inflammasomes, a member of immune systems'' early warning systems, produce and release cytokines that trigger these immune cells to commit suicide in an attempt to avoid infection. However, the cytokines also recruit more inflammatory cells to the lungs, which leads to pneumonia.

It''s like a broadcast system, but in this case the message is lethal, according to Flavell, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Researchers found that using the NLPR3 inflammasome pathway, infected mice were rescued from pneumonia. However, the immune system cells were still infected. Although they were no longer inflammatory, they could not result in harmful inflammation levels.

Another advantage of this technology is that the cells no longer die and therefore the virus becomes more infectious. However, blockade of the inflammasome pathway as well as antiviral treatment may resurgence COVID-19 pneumonia, and thus, some experts believe.

Although there are no approved drugs that block the NLPR3 pathway, there are still some pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the works, according to Flavell.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has provided a funding program for the research.

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