An Immune Protein Could Prevent Severe COVID-19—if It Is Given at the Right Time


  • An Immune Protein Could Prevent Severe #COVID-19 -if It Is Given at the Right Time - Scientific American

    "... viruses are smart. They have several proteins that can antagonize and suppress early interferon responses.” One of SARS-CoV-2’s own defenders, a viral protein called Nsp1, can shut down the host cell’s production of immune molecules, including interferons, researchers in Munich reported on July 17 in Science.


    “if the interferon response begins before viral replication peaks, we will have protective immunity,” he says. If the viruses thwart this antiviral defense, however, the delayed interferon response becomes pathogenic—summoning too many monocytes, which secrete inflammatory molecules and cause tissue damage. “It’s the relative timing of interferon with virus replication that’s the key,” Channappanavar says.


    Therapeutically, the findings suggest that #interferons matter in the initial phase of infection. “If you give interferon early, you can really increase the antiviral response. This is where you gain the most,” says Miriam Merad, who directs the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and was not involved with the new research. If a person with COVID-19 has already progressed to having #inflammation, “and you go in and give interferon, you are going to make things worse,” she says. In an open-label preprint study in China, #interferon nasal drops prevented the disease in at-risk medical staff who had treated infected individuals. Early unpublished data from COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the U.K. suggest that interferons inhaled directly into the lungs shortened hospital stays and increased odds of recovery. And a randomized trial in Iran is testing whether the proteins can enhance a base therapeutic regimen in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.