Since the OUTBREAK of COVID-19, scientists around the world have been racing against the clock to study the new virus.
At the beginning of the pandemic, human recognition of COVID-19 was “a new respiratory disease”.
However, with increasing scientific research, it has been discovered that novel Coronavirus affects not only the lungs but also the kidneys, heart and circulatory system, and even the sense of smell and taste.
Now a new study has revealed once again that the novel Coronavirus has an even more serious impact on the human body.
According to the New York Times on June 26, doctors have discovered that novel Coronavirus bears a frightening resemblance to HIV — it can “short circuit” the body’s immune system, including the death of important immune cells called T cells in certain areas.
▲ A new study suggests that novel Coronavirus may “short circuit” the body’s immune system.
Photo by The New York Times
The findings suggest that a commonly used treatment for COVID-19 — suppressing the immune system — may help only a few patients with severe illness, but may harm many.
The study also provides clues as to why coVID-19 is significantly skewed in children.
Seriously ill patients have a range of immune system deficiencies
“Abnormal” death of T cells is of concern
According to Dr. John Waley, immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, a growing number of studies have “novel Coronavirus very complex immune characteristics” and his lab has been working ona detailed study of the immune systems of coVID-19 patients.
In May, Dr. Waley and colleagues published a paper on bioRxiv, an online preprint platform, noting that “critically ill patients with COVID-19 have a range of immune system deficiencies, including the absence of some antiviral T cells in the body.”
In another study, published on the bioRxiv platform on May 20, researchers conducted clinical studies of 71 coVID-19 patients and found three patterns of immunodeficiency, in which T and B cells were inactive in about 30 percent of patients.
One of the more detailed studies, led by Immunologist Dr Adrian Haidt of King’s College London, is being reviewed and published as a preprint in Nature Medicine.
Dr Haidt and colleagues compared 63 coVID-19 patients at St Thomas’s Hospital in London with 55 healthy people, some of whom had novel Coronavirus infections recovered.
▲ St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, UK.
Photo by The New York Times
Dr Heidi and colleagues first put forward a hypothesis, namely COVID – 19 patients to will be coronavirus a profound immune response, so as to reveal why most people after infection almost no symptoms such as mild or no symptoms of infection, but those who the progression of the disease after infection, the immune system may be damaged because of overreaction, like patients with sepsis.
In another case, the team hypothesized that the patients’ immune systems might be “struggling” but did not respond adequately to novel Coronavirus.
In the actual study, the team found that one of the most significant aberrations in coVID-19 patients was a significant increase in levels of a molecule called IP-10, which delivers T cells to areas of the body where they are needed.
In general, IP-10 levels rise only briefly when T cells are allocated.
However, in coVID-19 patients, the IP-10 level caused by novel Coronavirus will rise and maintain an upward trend.
“This can produce chaotic signals in the body, and the body may send signals almost randomly to T cells, disrupting the immune response.”
“It’s like When Bolt hears the starting gun, he just runs,” Explained Dr Haidt.
If someone fired over and over again, how would he react?
He would stop, confused, disoriented.”
Dr Haidt went on to say that some T-cells were preparing to destroy the virus but appeared to have been destroyed and were behaving abnormally.
As a result, many t-cells in the body apparently die, depleting their reserves, especially in those over 40, whose thymus (the organ that makes new T-cells) becomes less efficient.
【 New possibilities 】
Reactivating the immune system may be the key to a cure
Haart could be an alternative to vaccines
The study also suggests that a common coVID-19 treatment, which suppresses the immune system of seriously ill patients, may not help cure most patients.
Novel Coronavirus is such a strong immune response that some patients develop severe symptoms due to a cytokine storm.
Normally, these overreactions can be suppressed by administering drugs that block interleukin-6, another tissue conductor of immune cells, but Dr. Haidy said the drugs had no obvious effect in most coVID-19 patients.
“Clearly, some patients have elevated IL-6 levels, so suppressing it may help,” he explains.
But the core goal should be to restore and revive the immune system, not suppress it.”
▲novel Coronavirus in some patients can cause the immune system to overcompensate, leading to a cytokine storm.
Photo by The New York Times
The new study may help answer another pressing question: why children are so underrepresented in COVID-19.
Dr Haidt thinks that children’s thymes are very active, which may keep them ahead of the virus, which can produce new T-cells faster than it can destroy them.
In contrast, in the elderly, the thymus gland often fails to function properly.
The new findings suggest that the HIV treatment model, a cocktail of antiviral drugs, may be a good option for people with mild or severe illness.
But some experts question whether antiviral treatment is still relevant if the main symptom of severe COVID-19 is an overreaction of the immune system.
In this connection, Dr. Haidt noted that if a novel Coronavirus directly causes the immune system to fail, using an antiviral drug makes sense and may even play a key role because it is important to prevent infection before the novel Coronavirus depletes the T cells and damages the rest of the immune system.
Even without a vaccine, CoVID-19 would be a manageable disease controlled by drugs that directly fight the virus, according to Dr. Haidt.
“I’m optimistic,” he says.
“It would be great to have a vaccine.
But given how challenging it is to vaccinate globally, it would be nice if we could rely on more than vaccines.”