Researchers in Montreal have tried to understand why certain groups of people like the elderly and the chronically ill are vulnerable to COVID-19.
The mystery lies in increased cellular oxidation linked to aging and disease, according to a new study from McGill University.
The study published in the “Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal” looked at the reasons why some animals contract the virus more easily, including the proteins that are involved in triggering infection.
Such an approach could lead to the development of new treatments, according to a statement from McGill University.
Researchers have found that animals that can contract the virus, just like humans, have two cysteines, an amino acid, that form a disulfide bridge that creates an anchor for the virus.
“We know the virus can infect humans, cats, dogs and ferrets, but not cattle and pigs. In addition, COVID-19 hits seniors and those with underlying conditions harder than young and healthy people. Until now, the reasons for this were unclear, ”said Jaswinder Singh, professor at McGill University on Tuesday.
“Based on our analysis, the increased cellular oxidation present in seniors and people with underlying health conditions predisposes them to more serious infection, replication and disease,” explained Rajinder Dhindsa, co-author. of study and professor emeritus of biology at McGill University.
Researchers argue that preventing the virus from docking to healthy cells could help develop new treatments for COVID-19.
“Antioxidants could lessen the severity of COVID-19 by interfering with the entry of the virus into host cells and, subsequently, its ability to survive by spreading,” said Singh.