Nose could be the key to treating severe COVID-19

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In a new study from Newcastle University, researchers have shed new light on early events in the battle between COVID-19 and the immune system in the nose, a key entry point for the virus.

They found that all nasal cell types are vulnerable to infection and that some, such as ciliated and secretory cells, support even greater levels of infection.

They found the way the nose lining reacts to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and the immune response it sets off in the body could determine disease and outcome.

The findings could help to inform the development of future treatments to prevent infection.

In the study, the team used a model of the nasal lining grown from patient nasal biopsy material and used advanced techniques to study infection and immune responses at the level of single cells.

They found that nasal cells responded to infection by producing a robust immune response, dominated by antiviral substances known as ‘interferons.”

The interferon response has been shown in patient studies to be an important protective factor against severe or life-threatening COVID-19. It is unclear where this response begins.

The study’s findings suggest that the interferon response initiates in the nasal mucosa in the early stages of infection.

This opens up the possibility that interferons, which are approved for the treatment of other viral infections in patients, could be repurposed to develop interventions, such as a nasal spray, for preventing COVID-19 in certain clinical scenarios.

These include helping to protect people who do not respond well to vaccines, or after specific high-risk exposures.

Experts still do not fully understand what determines the outcome of infection and why some patients become extremely unwell with COVID-19, whereas others are infected without developing symptoms.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about this common drug may prevent deadly inflammation in COVID-19 and findings of cholesterol-lowering drugs that may help you survive severe COVID-19.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about why people with diabetes more likely to get severe COVID-19 and results showing that common blood thinning drugs may reduce death risk in COVID-19.

The study is published in Nature Communications. One author of the study is Dr. Christopher Duncan.

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