Friday, May 7, 2021
Home Life Style Health & Fitness Coronavirus Turns Patient's Cells Into Virus Factories

Coronavirus Turns Patient’s Cells Into Virus Factories

When COVID-19 Attacks, Patient's Cells Turn into Virus Factories

By Steve Baragona

When the COVID-19 virus attacks, it turns the patient’s own cells into virus factories. This is the latest health and science research.

It starts at the surface of the cell, when the virus latches on to a protein that normally helps regulate the patient’s blood pressure. The cell unwittingly brings the virus inside, where the attacker unloads its cargo: instructions for making more virus.

Having no equipment of its own, the virus commandeers the cell’s machinery to make copies of its genetic code, manufacture more virus shells and deliver packaged germs to the cell surface, where they go on to infect more cells.  

Drugs already on pharmacists’ shelves act on various parts of that machinery. Though they may not be intended as antiviral drugs, in the scramble to treat the rising toll of COVID-19 infections, scientists are hoping that these existing drugs might offer some help.

corona virus
An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the corona virus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany. VOA

“We don’t have the luxury of a five-year drug discovery program. We need the agents now,” said Warner Greene, a physician and researcher at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. 

The search has turned up some oddball candidates. Anti-cancer drugs, heart disease medications, a drug against schizophrenia and a treatment for Parkinson’s disease have all turned up as possibilities. Testing is already under way for chloroquine, an antimalarial drug.

Mysterious ways 

Despite all the science behind drug development, scientists often don’t know exactly how medications work.

“In a lot of cases, we don’t know all their mechanisms of action. Sometimes we actually find that there are effects that we didn’t recognize initially,” said University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk.

These therapies also may prove useful because drugs frequently have multiple effects. Our cells often use the same machinery to do different jobs, Kindrachuk said, and a drug that acts on one part of the machinery may produce more than one result.

Sometimes the results are unwanted side effects. But sometimes they offer opportunities to treat entirely different conditions.

When bald men taking the blood pressure medication minoxidil grew hair, the drug was repurposed as the blockbuster hair-growth product Rogaine.

Viagra was originally developed to treat chest pains from heart disease. Its impacts on erectile dysfunction were an unexpected — and lucrative — surprise.

corona virus
Researchers at the Microbiology Research Facility work with coronavirus samples as a trial begins to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the corona virus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. VOA

Better together 

But a drug designed for something else may not work as well against a virus.

“I do think that we might find a drug that’s moderately effective, or several drugs that are moderately effective.” And then the question is, what if you put those two moderately effective drugs together? Can they synergize and can you get a very potent antiviral? That’s our plan,”  Greene said.

His group is screening thousands of drugs to see if they work against the virus in a test tube. He hopes to have results in two or three months. Several teams are pursuing similar strategies, using robots to run large numbers of tests at once.

Other scientists are working to unravel how the virus interacts with the different processes happening inside human cells, and looking for drugs that act on those processes.

Also Read- WhatsApp Experiences Greatest Gains Amid Lockdown

It’s very early-stage research. Any drug that looks good in these tests would need to be tested on animals, and then on small groups of people, to be sure it does not do more harm than good.

Greene cautions there is a long way to go.

“It’s a first step,” he said. “There’s lots of false leads there. But there are leads.” (VOA)



Most Popular

Google Planning To Give Users More Controls About How Their Data Is Used By Apps

After Apple gave users more control over their data sharing with app developers, Google has now pre-announced an upcoming safety section in Google Play...

Lancet: COVID Pneumonia Puts 1 In Every 3 Women At Lung Damage Risk

Most patients hospitalized for Covid-19 infection return to full health, but one in three may develop lung damage even after a year, according to...

Report: Immediate Action Is Needed To Reduce Methane Emissions

A Global Methane Assessment released on Thursday by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) showed that...

Racism In The United States Has a Long History

By- Khushi Bisht It was 1915, and India was still fighting for freedom when a man with his wife and three children chose to flee...

The Global Social And Economic Impact Of The Gambling Industry

By Rahul Rana Gambling as a form of leisure has been around since the dawn of modern civilization. It has undergone many different evolutions and...

7 Tips To Prevent Dark Spots From Body

If you are someone prone to pigmentation, then you might know the struggle of getting rid of dark spots. Recurring and stubborn dark spots...

Exploring The World’s Greatest Investors Minds

Billionaire investors. If we think of them, it's with a mixture of awe and suspicion. Clearly, they possess a kind of genius -- the...

Sumptuous Iftar’s Recipes For Evening

While many spend the holy month Ramadan fasting, part of the rituals include breaking the daily fast with an evening meal. The Park Hotels...

Recent Comments