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Covid, a 950 million-year-old molecule that stops infection

Covid, a 950 million-year-old molecule that stops infection

CD38, prof composite With its origin nearly a billion years ago and found in the human body, it can prevent the negative consequences of Covid-19 infection. A potential treatment such as the one already used is being studied with success to combat multiple myeloma.

How it works

“CD38 is a very old molecule in the history of life: humans were born 950 million years ago, but the molecule is much older, and it dates back to 4 billion years ago, but we will keep these details aside for the time being,” he claimed exclusively for Fabio MalavasiEmeritus Professor of Medical Genetics del Department From the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Turin. The important thing to know is the current purpose of this molecule. “it’s a Targeting To treat multiple myeloma, which is a plasma cell tumor – says Professor Malavasi – it is used because, usually, it is poorly expressed on normal cell surfaces while much of it is present on this tumor. For this reason, CD38 was used as a therapeutic target for monoclonal antibodies that represented a breakthrough in the treatment of this tumor. “

The role of CD38

The study, whose coordinator is Professor Malavasi, has been published in a prestigious international journal Physiological Reviews (We’ve attached the original work, in a PDF, to the bottom of the piece). The researchers realized that there are certain situations that resemble what was observed alive, that is, on patients: “It has been observed that this molecule is also an enzyme present on the surface of cells and is important because it regulates the synthesis of other factors. Such as cytoplasmic signals that regulate calcium and other substances involved in inflammation.” . And here comes the point: “We made a project for it, Blocking This molecule in patients with Covid, it will be possible to alleviate the most dangerous part which is pneumonia. His team analyzed and implemented a logic sequence based on what was observed in myeloma and passed it on to some patients through an application project.

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How do viruses work?

“This is because viruses are looking for particles that seem to have nothing to do with them,” the geneticist tells us, explaining that viruses “are intelligent men who search, inside our cells, for ways that no one can practice. For example, it usesAce 2, Which is a very common strategy in historical infections in recent years: think of HiV that has chosen its own receptor to enter cells, and the CD4 molecule that characterizes defense cells, so patients with type 1 HiV do not die from the disease itself because they no longer have immune defenses and can To die even from a simple cold. “These are all strategies that have been adopted to bypass cellular defenses of all kinds, immunological and serological, that is, antibodies.

How does Covid freeze?

What will the research now depend on? “ The research will focus on two aspects: On the one hand, we have some antibodies that block the action of CD38 and it can be done through topical procedures, in the lung itself, or with Treatments By blowing adenosine, a substance that prevents the cytokine storm that’s often the cause of death in patients with Covid-19. We are trying in every imaginable way possible to intervene in this storm. “One of the first suggestions was made to use the interleukin 6 receptor because it is very reminiscent of treating patients with Car-T cells or with antibodies: The aim of the researchers is to intervene in the most natural and natural way with the emergence of these super-inflammations, by suppressing them. Preventing CD38 prevents inflammation?” “I can safely say that we can have a business that goes in this direction,” Malavasi says. At this point, the app is expected to be in the “field”: to get it, however, it will take more months. ”This is the problem we are working on. , We have to create a ‘design’ in which our idea can be applied in some models in the laboratory and then in vivo, it will take some time. For a cure, then, we have to wait until 2022. “Another question arises: How will the molecule be banned, with a treatment or a vaccine?” Antibodies Monoclonal agents are agents that are used as drugs that act on the target CD38 while vaccines are designed against viral components, and this is the difference – the expert explains – all vaccines currently in use and under testing, are directed against the components of the surface of the virus and in this direction the immune response is directed. On the other hand, an antibody is simply a protein that binds to a target that is specific to it and blocks its functional activity, and the ability to function as an enzyme.

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Molecule that is 4 billion years old

But let’s go back to the beginning, when Professor Malavasi “put aside” the details of this molecule that was born before man himself. How is it even 4 billion years old? The story is weird and fun. “In the history of life there is a constant movement, and that is why an analysis is called Phylogenetic science‘: l’aplysia californica, For example, it is a file Quiet That predicts human presence in the history of life and is used in the laboratory to study the biological processes of learning and synaptic memory. What does aplysia have to do that is certainly unknown to most of us? “By studying it, a molecule very similar to human CD38 was discovered: This means that this molecule is very important to life because it works so well that it has never changed, and plays a very important role in life’s history,” Malavasi says. CD38 is a surface molecule of 45 Kilodalton, Which is a widely used unit of atomic mass in physics and chemistry that is expressed in quantitative variation by many groups of cells. “We can say that it is ubiquitous in low density in all cells of a human being: red blood cells have very little, and lymphocytes more. However, inside leukocytes there are plasma cells, those that produce antibodies, which have a very high presence on their surface. : For this reason, it has been assumed that the molecule is the therapeutic target for the antibody that kills the tumor target cell, “he concludes.

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