For the six months of the COVID-19 scientists learned a lot about the spread of the novel virus, its effect on the human body, and the range of symptoms it causes. Below you will find four unusual things the researchers found out about the coronavirus:
COVID-19 is strongly associated with blood clots, which, if large enough, may block the flow of blood through blood vessels. The clot in a coronary artery can cause a heart attack, in the lungs — a pulmonary embolism, in the brain — a stroke.
Coronavirus may lead to anosmia or losing your sense of smell, even if you don’t have a runny or blocked nose.
The virus can trigger serious inflammatory disease in children known as “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children”, or MIS-C.
SARS-CoV-2 may travel from humans to animals and back.
The analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses, performed by Scripps Research Institute from the US, showed that there was no evidence that the virus was engineered in a laboratory.
The study says that the Chinese coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan last year is the product of natural evolution. The findings of the research were published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The researchers found that the RBD (receptor-binding domain) portion of the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins had evolved to effectively target a molecular feature on the outside of human cells ACE2, a receptor involved in regulating blood pressure.
The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was so effective at binding the human cells that the scientists concluded it was the result of natural selection and not the product of genetic engineering.
Kristian Andersen, PhD, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author on the paper, says: “By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes.”
Recent research, executed by a team of researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, suggests that physical exercise may slow or prevent the development of macular degeneration and benefit other common causes of vision loss like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Within the study, the researchers found that physical exercise decreased the harmful overgrowth of blood vessels, which are a key reason for macular degeneration and other eye diseases, in the eyes of the laboratory mice by up to 45%.
Researcher Bradley Gelfand, PhD, of UVA’s Center for Advanced Vision Science, says: “The next step is to look at how and why this happens and to see if we can develop a pill or method that will give you the benefits of exercise without having to exercise. We’re talking about a fairly elderly population [of people with macular degeneration], many of whom may not be capable of conducting the type of exercise regimen that may be required to see some kind of benefit.”
A new study, performed by researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, US, suggests that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk to die from cancer. However, adding some light physical activity may reduce this risk.
For the study, a team of scientists drew on the data of 8,002 adults aged 45 and older who joined the REGARDS study between 2003 and 2007. They found that people with the greatest sedentary time had a 52% higher risk of dying from cancer than those with the least sedentary time.
The researchers write in their paper: “These findings add to growing evidence in cancer research on the importance of reducing sedentary behavior and support the public health message that adults should sit less and move more to promote health and longevity.”
Scientists from institutions in France, Germany, and the United States recently presented a new model of infectious disease dynamics that takes into account the role of the microbiome. They suggest that environmental changes may destabilize this model and lead to the development of new infectious diseases due to changes in the microbiome of animals.
The study has shown that microbial communities, consisting of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, play a significant role in the health of ecosystems, wildlife, and people.
Study leader Dr. Adeline Loyau of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Germany, explains: “We are now only gradually beginning to understand their role in health prophylaxis and how they interact, for example, with the environmental microbiome, pathogens, and the host.”
A new study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, suggests that higher levels of the brain antioxidant glutathione are associated with quicker response to psychosis treatment.
The study included 26 people diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. All of them had been referred to the Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses, at the London Health Sciences Centre, in Ontario. The researchers measured brain antioxidant levels before the patients started treatment for psychosis and 6 months later.
Senior author of the study Dr. Lena Palaniyappan, an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, explains: “This study demonstrates that if we can find a way to boost the number of antioxidants in the brain, we might be able to help patients transition out of hospital more quickly, reduce their suffering more quickly, and help them return earlier to their work and studies.”
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