There are those who number one or two infections. And who, on the other hand, can say that he has never yet fallen ill with Covid-19. Perhaps for greater attention in wearing the mask or, more generally, in respecting the anti-contagion measures? Not only that: the lungs would also play a role, or rather one protein inside them capable of blocking the virus. The studiocarried out by researchers at the University of Sydney and recently published in Plos Biologycould finally detect the key of theimmunity al coronavirus.
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How the study was done
It is not the first time, in fact, that the scientific community has wondered why some people have never fallen ill with Covid-19, while others may present even very serious forms of the disease. In the new study, the researchers used the genetic engineering tool Crispr, which allowed them to activate all genes in the human genome, to search for proteins with the ability to bind to Sars-Cov-2. From the analyses, they discovered a receptor protein, which is found in the lungs and which attaches to coronavirusor rather to the protein spike, like a kind of Velcro. In doing so, therefore, it manages to immobilize it and move it away from the target cells.
Crispr, “allowed us to find this new receptor protein, Lrrc15”, commented Greg Neely, one of the authors of the study. “We have analyzed the lungs of patients who died from Covid or other diseases and found that those with Covid grave they had tons of this protein in them lungs”. Despite the production of Lrrc15, the researchers point out, these patients probably died because this protein was produced in insufficient quantities or too late to actually help. “We were unable to examine the lungs of Covid survivors as a lung biopsy is not something easy to perform on living people,” continues the expert. “We expect, however, that there are even larger quantities than this protein in the survivors, compared to the deceased”.
The possible implications
In the same direction, as recalled by Guardianalso goes another recent study byImperial College London who looked at blood samples for Lrrc15 and found the protein was lower in patients with severe Covid than in patients with one mild form of the disease. “The fact that there is this natural immune receptor that we didn’t know about, lining our lungs and blocking and controlling the virus, is crazy,” Neely comments.
Furthermore, from the investigations, the team discovered that Lrrc15 is also expressed in the fibroblaststhe cells that control the pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that is one of the possible complications of Covid-19. A discovery, therefore, that could have important implications for the treatment of long Covid. “We can now use this new receptor to design broad-acting drugs capable of blocking viral infection or even pulmonary fibrosis, for which we currently do not have good treatments,” concludes the expert.