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While many aspects of the coronavirus have been the focus of studies, one particular interest is how the virus invades the cells of the host. SciTechDaily notes how a recent study revealed a new COVID-19 entryway that was not previously known before.
Previous research revealed that the pandemic-inducing SARS-CoV-2 and the preceding coronavirus, SARS-CoV-1, invade cells through two different ways. While studies reveal how COVID-19 invades and gets transmitted from person to person, the recent research reveals an additional route that the virus takes in order to enter the host. Findings of this recent study were included in the iScience publication.
New Coronavirus Entryway Discovered: Metalloproteinases
Based on this newly discovered approach, the virus works with the metalloproteinases. Such metalloproteinases are bodily enzymes that have the capacity to catalyze. However, they require metals, like atoms of zinc, in order to operate.
Through various experiments and studies conducted ever since the year 2020, the University of Ottawa research team found out that the novel coronavirus can invade cells in a way that is highly dependent on metalloproteinases for its navigation.
The researchers described how there are two matrix metalloproteinases that play vital roles when it comes to activating a glycoprotein spike. These matrix metalloproteinases are namely MMP-9 and MMP-2. Other than this, the research suggests how certain variants that move toward such metalloproteinases are more chaotic and lead to greater havoc.
The study revealed that there are certain variants that prefer metalloproteinases in order for them to be activated. The Delta strain, for instance, was more pathogenic compared to others and had remarkably surged last 2021. This specific strain keeps on using metalloproteinases for its entry.
On the other hand, Omicron, its successor with reduced pathogenic levels, did not depend on metalloproteinases in order to enter the host.
More Than Just a New COVID-19 Entryway
Dr. Marceline Côté from the University of Ottawa notes how the novel coronavirus is capable of using certain proteins that typically get secreted by certain immune cells that are activated. This is done in order to lead to greater damage and more infection across different tissues and cells across the body.
Such a mechanism of entry may also impact how the infection progresses in terms of severity and other conditions.
Dr. Côté notes how such findings may affect the condition's progression to severity. The results can also impact the conditions that come after COVID-19 infections. Such post-COVID-19 conditions include the complex variety of symptoms, dubbed "long Covid," that tend to arise after the infection.
According to the World Health Organization, there were more than 649 million confirmed COVID-19 cases across the globe. There were also more than 6.6 million fatalities that were globally reported. These stats are as of December 18, 2022.
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