The researchers actually suggest increasing the strength of the innate immune system - the first line in the fight against the virus, before the acquired immune system (specific to a particular pathogen) comes into play * According to researchers from the Hebrew University, Stanford University and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, this approach may improve the immune system's response to the virus , shorten the period of the disease, reduce the risk of complications, and even shorten the period of infection. The researchers: "We hope that following the article, clinical trials will be launched that will test the new approach"
When infected with corona, the virus reaches the body systems of the infected person, penetrates the cells, multiplies and spreads to different tissues. During this time, the virus does everything it can to avoid detection by the immune system, and it seems that the corona virus excels in this in a special way compared to the average virus - in certain people, in particular those who later develop complications, the virus manages to avoid detection and reproduce without interruption for a period of a week or more . From the moment the virus is detected, a race begins between the immune system, which activates a variety of measures to eliminate it - activation of thousands of genes and the production of hundreds of types of proteins and hormones, which are responsible for activating alarm mechanisms, mobilizing reserves and reserves, and attacking the virus directly and indirectly - and the virus itself, which strives at this time to multiply as possible and spread itself further by infecting more people.
Now, four researchers - Dr. Oren Kolodani from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior and Dr. Michael Berger from the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University, Dr. Yoav Ram from the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, and Prof. Marcus Feldman from Stanford University - have decided to propose an approach Original and daring, but simple, which may help to deal with the corona virus. Their scientific hypothesis was published in the journal Open Biology under the title "A new perspective for dealing with SARS-CoV-2: Early activation of the innate immune system in preparation for viral infection".
The innate immune system (Wikipedia) exists in the organism starting from birth, and in fact even before birth - during embryonic development. In general, this system is characterized by the fact that its various components act in a non-specific manner, meaning that each cell or molecule belonging to it acts against a wide variety of pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms), only on the basis of the distinction between "self" and "foreign". Also, the innate immune system has no immune memory.
The researchers hope that the article will spark a discussion in the medical and academic community, which will lead to clinical trials testing the new approach. The idea proposed by the researchers is simple. According to them, the way to win the race is to start it early - it may not be fair in competitive sports, but in fighting a global epidemic the move is legitimate. The goal is to make the immune system think it is under attack even before it meets the virus, which will cause it to race, arm itself and organize, and when the virus arrives it will quickly identify it before it has time to spread, and attack it effectively. The result may be manifested in a shortened period of illness and a reduced risk of complications that require hospitalization or lead to a life-threatening condition. Furthermore, the researchers point out that even if the approach is applied only to young adults who are not in the risk group and most of whom would only be asymptomatically ill even if they were infected, then this will be of great importance since the early stimulation of the immune system will significantly shorten the length of time they are infecting others.
So how do you make the immune system think it is under attack before the real attack has begun? It turns out that Western medicine is excellent at this - every routine vaccine we receive, for example the polio vaccine, the pentavalent vaccine, or the flu vaccine, is based on the fact that the immune system is activated in two stages. In the first stage, which occurs immediately after vaccination, general mechanisms are activated against viruses of any kind. In the second stage, about a week after the administration of the vaccine, specific mechanisms against the virus against which the vaccine was developed come into action (including immune memory that will be useful if and when the virus appears). In terms of the immune system, in the period of time that takes from a few days to weeks, it was at war with a real virus for anything. The researchers estimate that if during this period of time an infection with the corona virus occurs, the system will identify and eliminate it quickly and efficiently.
The question arises, what is the connection between vaccination against the polio virus, for example, and vaccination against Corona? After all, the immune system is specific, and the whole idea of the vaccine is to create a specific immune memory against the virus for which the vaccine is intended. In fact, in the war against a virus, the winning blow - the one that definitively eliminates the invading virus - is indeed often given by the adaptive immune system, the one that learns to recognize specific antigens. But a significant part of the campaign against viruses, perhaps even the overwhelming majority, is conducted using proteins and hormones that are not specific to the specific disease, but act against a wide spectrum of viruses, or are responsible for communication of the immune system within itself and with the various body systems in order to mobilize the necessary resources or create the The desired conditions in favor of effective fighting against the virus. Many of these will go into action in response to a flu vaccine, for example, and if within a few weeks after the vaccination a corona infection occurs, then some of them will still be mobilized, conscripted, and ready for action that will eliminate the corona effectively and quickly.
The researchers emphasize that the proposal at this stage is only a hypothesis, which requires careful examination. We need to make sure, for example, that the early stimulation does not create the opposite effect - that the immune system will be exhausted and weakened when the corona virus itself arrives, or alternatively it will be so stimulated that the overreaction that will occur when the corona virus arrives will be such that it will cause serious damage in itself. According to the researchers, "Our article is intended to stimulate discussion in the medical and academic community, and we hope that following it, clinical trials will be launched that will test the new approach we are offering. Its great potential lies in the fact that it is simple and based on existing and accepted medical measures, which have been well researched and whose mode of action has been found to be safe - vaccines that might not be harmful for any adult to receive a booster shot anyway. It is important to emphasize, we absolutely do not recommend that people try to stimulate their immune systems independently. The risks of something like this in the context of the corona epidemic have not been tested yet, and such testing should be done in an orderly and controlled manner, but we believe there is potential here, and hope that it will be tested in the near future."
More of the topic in Hayadan:
- "For many, many years there was no Nobel Prize for the field of immunology, certainly not in this field of the innate immune response
- Why is there a mechanism in healthy cells that allows viruses to multiply and spread themselves?
- The elderly are especially at risk because of the way the immune system ages