Israeli research: COVID-19 virus harms human immune system
Israeli researchers have found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, harms the human immune system, Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in southern Israel said on Monday.
In a genetic study published in the journal iScience, BGU researchers tried to find out what causes the "stormy" nature of COVID-19, which is also manifested in an extreme reaction of the immune system.
For this purpose, they analyzed for a year, using computational biology, gene expression in patients from around the world.
The team examined whether mitochondria, cell organs that produce energy, are damaged during COVID-19 illness, resulting in dysfunction of the body.
Surprisingly, the researchers identified damage to the mitochondria of immune system cells, rather than to lung cells' mitochondria.
The mitochondrial damage in immune cells explains the "cytokine storm" phenomenon, which is a reaction of the immune system, appearing with symptoms such as fever, swelling and extreme fatigue, the researchers said.
"Based on the results, it is possible to use existing treatments to target mitochondria and thus improve patients' condition," they concluded.