COVID-19 causes cell death like AIDS
Virologist Benoit Barbeau believes that 2022 could be a turning point.
The COVID-19 virus would cause the self-destruction of immune system cells whose role is precisely to fight against infection. This process of “cellular suicide” is similar to what happens in a person with AIDS. It’s an international team co-led by a professor from Laval University who made the discovery.
“Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has been presented as a disease whose effects were mainly manifested in the lungs and the inflammatory response,” explains Jérôme Estaquier, professor and researcher at Laval University. .
“Little attention has been paid to the fact that two-thirds of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have abnormally low lymphocyte counts. These cells play a central role in the immune response against infections,” he adds.
This process of cell death, called apoptosis, is similar to that which occurs in the blood of people infected with HIV, explains the researcher, who has been studying HIV for almost 30 years.
The result is that in both diseases, infected people have difficulty mounting an adequate immune response against the virus.
Jérôme Estaquier, on the similarities between the COVID-19 virus and HIV stop this cell death?
Researcher Estaquier and his team are optimistic about the possibility of countering the destructive biological phenomenon. In experiments carried out in vitro, the team succeeded in reducing cell death by 60% when they added a molecule called Q-VD to the blood.
The researchers now hope to start a clinical study to test the effectiveness of this inhibitor in people with COVID-19.
Jérôme Estaquier is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval and a researcher at the Center de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval. He is also a researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France. The other co-director of the study is Professor Pierre Corbeau, from the CNRS-University of Montpellier and the Center hospitalier de Nîmes.