A protein known as CD47 that helps damaged cells not be destructed by the immune system could be part of the reasons why some people are experiencing severe episodes of COVID-19, according to researchers.
Drugs in development that are targeting the protein could lead to better COVID-19 therapies, as per a report recently published in Current Issues in Molecular Biology.
Martin Michaelis, a coauthor of the study, member of the University of Kent, said:
“We may have identified a major factor associated with severe COVID-19. We can now look forward to further progress in the design of therapeutics.”
In laboratory conditions, the researchers discovered that CD47, which effectively tells the immune system not to eat it is present in vast amounts on the surfaces of cells infected with the coronavirus.
Coronavirus infections also lead to increases in the levels of SIRPalpha, another protein that teams up with CD47 to trick the immune system into ignoring sick cells.
Previous studies revealed that CD47 levels are also high in situations that put people at increased risks for severe illness from the virus-like old age, high blood pressure, diabetes, and clogged blood vessels.
In such individuals, the researchers noted that high CD47 levels could predispose to severe COVID-19.
“Further research will be needed to define the roles of CD47 and/or SIRPalpha in COVID-19 in more detail,” the researchers added.
The Grim Effects Of The Pandemic
The ongoing pandemic decreased life expectancy last year by the most severe point since the Second World War.
The life expectancy of American men decreased by over two years, new data suggests.
In the 29 countries analyzed, out of which 27 were in Europe, plus the United States and Chile, only two didn’t present a decrease in life expectancy.
Intriguingly, it was noticed that the drops in life expectancy were higher for men rather than women in most countries.
Ridhi Kashyap, the study’s co-leader and member of the University of Oxford, stated that the huge declines in life expectancy in the US could be partly explained by the significant increase in mortality at working ages seen last year.
“In the United States, increases in mortality in the under 60 age group contributed most significantly to life expectancy declines, whereas across most of Europe increases in mortality above age 60 contributed more significantly,” Kashyap added.