The world is currently struggling to fight the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 that is spreading like wildfire. The virus has infected more than 15.7 million people globally and claimed the lives of over 640,000 people worldwide. Researchers around the world have been working to find the reason behind the virus being so deadly for quite some time.
Now, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have probably figured out something that can turn out to be vital to understand the behavior of the virus. In the case of pathogens, when it enters the human body it triggers an alarm, which signals the immune system to take action and get rid of the unknown entity. This happens in case of a virus, bacterium, or other types of microorganisms.
The same thing happens with coronavirus, few of the immune responses are more efficient and others are not, thus different people suffer different versions of the disease. In the case of immune systems that react slower, the virus replicates with ease inside the lungs and causes major complications. Doctors have been trying to figure out a way of countering it.
According to the new research that got published in Nature, the researchers claim that the virus has a way of camouflaging itself after it gets inside the cell to avoid detection. This can explain why some of the patients have a harder time to tackle it, even though it does not always happen.
The scientists identified an enzyme called nsp16 that is produced by the virus and is used to modify its RNA cap. After the virus binds to the cells, it makes use of the RNA for instructing those cells to mass-produce thousands of copies of the virus.
The cell gets destroyed in the process and new copies infect other cells. The immune system blocks a few of them, this fight takes place at the cellular level and is very much important for the patient. "It's a camouflage," lead author of the study, Dr. Yogesh Gupta stated as reported by BGR. "Because of the modifications, which fool the cell, the resulting viral messenger RNA is now considered as part of the cell's own code and not foreign."
This discovery can turn out to be huge for the antiviral drug development as meds can target the nsp16 enzyme and prevent it from making changes, which will help the immune system to recognize the virus faster.
The novel virus outbreak has affected the US the most followed by Brazil and India. Over 300 vaccine candidates are currently in trials as researchers are working at a rapid pace to provide the world with the 'holy grail' of coronavirus.