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U.S researchers discover new immune response aiding severe COVID-19

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 YALE researchers have identified a particular immune response pathway that leads to severe illness and death in people infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

  The team led by postdoctoral fellow Richard Flavell  who is part of the lab of senior author in Esen Sefik,, recently concluded studies on effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice engineered to have a human immune system

  Researchers have revealed that once the COVID-19 virus infects the lungs, it can trigger what has been called a “cytokine storm,” or an overactive immune response that leads to deadly inflammation in the lungs.  

   Source however says, the researchers have found that “ immune cells themselves, not just epithelial cells lining the lung, can harbor the virus. When the body detects the virus in these cells, inflammasomes, part of the immune system’s early warning system, produce and release cytokines which prompt these immune cells to commit suicide in an attempt to abort infection.”

They noted that the cytokines also recruit even more inflammatory cells to the lungs from the blood, which drives a vicious cycle that leads to pneumonia.

  Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Richard Flavell,

It’s like a broadcast system, but in this case the message is lethal.”

  The Scientists affirmed that In the mouse model of COVID-19, infected mice were rescued from pneumonia by blocking the NLPR3 inflammasome pathway.  They explained that with the inflammasome pathway blocked, immune system cells were still infected, but ‘they were no longer inflammatory and therefore could not contribute to damaging levels of inflammation’.

  According to the researchers, one byproduct of this rescue, is that the cells no longer die and as a consequence release more virus.However, blockade of the inflammasome pathway along with antiviral treatment could provide a way to treat COVID-19 pneumonia and prevent severe cases of COVID -19..

  Although there are no approved drugs that block the NLPR3 pathway, several pharmaceutical and biotech companies are developing them, Flavell said.

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