New research focused on the way COVID-19 can lead to some major inflammation in the bodies of those infected with the virus.
According to two studies, one published in the journal Nature and a second one available on a preprint server, the pandemic-causing virus is able to infect immune cells that go on to trigger a significant inflammatory response and cause severe symptoms.
Furthermore, a lot of other research done since the beginning of the pandemic has shown that inflammation causes organ damage as well as respiratory issues.
The new research has now found that COVID is able to infect white blood cells – monocytes in the blood as well as macrophages in the lungs – which trigger the inflammation as a result.
According to CNN, normally, the cells absorb the virus and treat it so that it does not infect other cells.
However, the novel coronavirus “escapes into the body of the cell, where it starts making copies of itself,” the news outlet mentions.
In other words, when the virus infects defense cells, an alarm in the body is set off.
Then, inflammasomes emerge and begin to eliminate those cells as per a process known as pyroptosis.
Dr. Judith Lieberman, the research leader and a pediatric immunologist at Boston Children’s Hospital shared with CNN that “The viruses not only get taken up, but once they get taken up, the virus starts replicating, so that was surprising. When cells die via pyroptosis, they release all sorts of inflammatory proteins that then cause fever and summon even more immune cells to the site. We do not have any way of treating all that once it gets started. It is just sort of like a little fire. It spreads and explodes and no fire extinguisher is really capable of putting it out.”
Something worth noting according to Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, is that the study concluded that the virus cannot produce any new viruses as it spreads throughout populations.
In fact, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News stresses that “the cells died quickly from pyroptosis before new viruses could fully form.”