Scientists claim to have found the “Achilles heel” of the coronavirus

Researchers discovered how herpes simplex virus (HSV) bypasses the immune system to cause infections

As the international scientific community redoubles its efforts to study and learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for causing the COVID-19 disease, studies are carried out in parallel to come up with a vaccine and various simultaneous treatment lines, a group of researchers claims to have discovered how the new coronavirus manages to bypass the immune system and thus infect its victims, Thank you to your years of study on herpes simplex virus (HSV).

The advance was an achievement by a team of scientists from the Aarhus Universities, Denmark; Oxford, United Kingdom; and Gothenburg, Sweden, led by the Danish virologist Soren Riis Paludan, who published the study at Journal of Experimental Medicine, and they explained there how have managed to discover how the herpes simplex virus bypasses the body’s defenses to infect the brain. A rare infection, but with a high mortality rate.

According to the virologist and main researcher, determined that the herpes simplex virus is capable of inhibiting a protein in cells, known as STING, that is activated whenever there is a threat. With STING deactivated, the body’s immune system is also suppressed. In other words, the virus slows down the body’s defense system, which is responsible for preventing us from falling ill. Other viruses also use the same strategy.

Paludan runs a laboratory that conducts research on the immune system’s ability to fight disease caused by the herpes virus, influenza viruses, and more recently, concentrates all its efforts on deciphering the main unknowns behind the SARS-CoV-2 virus, better known as the new coronavirus.

As never before in history, studies to reach a vaccine are carried out in parallel and in record time, and several lines of treatment are studied simultaneously (REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration)

As never before in history, studies to reach a vaccine are carried out in parallel and in record time, and several lines of treatment are studied simultaneously (REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration)

Similarities of the herpes simplex virus with the SARS-CoV-2

Although the work focused on the herpes virus, Paludan argued in the paper that there are parallels with the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. In fact, the same protein is also inactivated by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

This means that we have found an Achilles heel in the virus and the way it manages to cause infections in the body.. Our results lead us to suppose that if we can prevent viruses from blocking the STING protein, then we can prevent it from replicating, and that would pave the way for new treatments for herpes, the flu and also the coronavirus.“Advanced the Danish expert.

The virologist also added that “Previous studies have already shown that the coronavirus inhibits STING in the same way that the Herpes virus does.. And that means that we have found a common denominator for various types of viruses, and that this will be an important element for the development of treatments ”.

Paludan, a Danish virologist, said in the scientific paper that there are parallels with the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. In fact, the same protein is also inactivated by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (MAM / CDC / Delivered via REUTERS)

Paludan, a Danish virologist, said in the scientific paper that there are parallels with the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. In fact, the same protein is also inactivated by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (MAM / CDC / Delivered via REUTERS)

In the conclusions of the study, they specify that the herpes simplex virus (HSV) It is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in the western world, and the type I interferon system (IFN) is important for antiviral control in the brain. They add that “it is a devastating disease with high mortality if it is not treated”.

Viruses have an exceptional ability to bypass the immune or defense system of organisms and thus cause disease. Most people recover from a viral infection like the flu or common influenza, but the case of the COVID-19 pandemic shows how dangerous they are when there is no vaccine or effective treatment.

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