11.07.2021 – 16:43
Since 2019 when the coronavirus pandemic started, we have learned more about the virus, who is most at risk, how COVID patients should be treated and how the virus works. As Voice of America correspondent Carol Pearson reports, researchers are also learning how the virus manipulates the body’s immune system and how it avoids its defense mechanisms.
When a virus enters the human body, the immune system immediately begins to attack it. But COVID-19 seems to have the ability to bypass our immune system.
Michaela Gack runs the research center at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida. She compares the immune system to the home alarm system that manages to disable the robber.
“Essentially, in this case, the COVID-19 virus disables the home alarm system and so it can replicate freely in the human body and spread,” she says.
Ms. Gack says this happens almost immediately after infection.
“Another key feature of this virus is that it can escape the human immune response.… This high transmissibility of the virus, combined with the ability to avoid the antibody response, makes the situation really alarming,” she said. Gack.
What makes the virus even more troubling is its more contagious and serious Delta variant, which is spreading rapidly around the world. Delta has become the dominant variant in the United States.
In the lab, Ms. Gack’s team is studying the COVID-19 evasion technique, which she says seems unique. She says the technique provides data to produce drugs that will fight the virus.
“Interfering with this enzyme of the virus, on the one hand, would directly block the virus, but it would also restore or even strengthen our immune system, so it would have this dual function, which I believe could be “very useful for therapy,” she says.
Ms. Gack and her team are collaborating with other researchers in several laboratories. If successful, they may find new ways to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as those infected with other types of coronaviruses. They may even discover new treatments for people suffering from other diseases caused by a virus, such as certain types of cancer.