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Covid-19 could be a autoimmune disease

Date: 19 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have discovered new evidence to suggest that in some people with Covid-19, the body produces auto-antibodies, that attacks own immune system and organs.

 

Background

Covid-19 has proved to be a big puzzle with its varying effects. In some people it occurs as a mild symptom and in others it turns fatal and serious.

 

Details

  • The researchers found that people with severe COVID had auto-antibodies that latched onto crucial proteins involved in recognising, alerting and clearing cells infected with the coronavirus.

  • These proteins include cytokines and chemokines – important messengers in the immune system. This interfered with the normal immune system function, blocking antiviral defences, potentially making the disease more severe.

  • Later studies discovered that people with severe COVID can also develop auto-antibodies to interferons, immune proteins that play a major role in fighting viral infections.

  • The presence of these auto-antibodies could make the disease worse, suggesting that these auto-antibodies could contribute to the severity of COVID in humans.

  • However, the researchers didn't find any COVID-specific auto-antibodies that could be used to distinguish severely ill COVID patients.

Auto-immune diseases

  • An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body cells and organs.

  • For many years, auto-antibodies have been known to be involved in autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

  • It is not known why some people develop these antibodies, but it is likely to be a combination of genetics and environment. Viral infections have also been linked to the onset of some autoimmune diseases.

With unusual autoimmune diseases, patients may suffer years before getting a proper diagnosis. Most of these diseases have no cure. Some require lifelong treatment to ease symptoms.