Runaway Enzyme Attacking Some Virus Patients
University of Arizona researchers trying to save COVID-19 patients have made what they believe is a critical discovery: an enzyme that typically defends the body is instead shredding cell membranes in organs of people with severe disease. In some cases, this may cause death or could contribute to 'long-COVID' cases, which refers to those who have health issues that continue long after the infection peaked. Researchers found that one of the key factors in determining if a person was going to die of the virus is the circulation of a particular enzyme in high amounts. 'In other words, this enzyme is trying to kill the virus but at a certain point it is released in such high amounts that things head in a really bad direction, destroying the patient's cell membranes and thereby contributing to multiple organ failure and death,' says Dr. Floyd (Ski) Chilton, director of the UA's Precision Nutrition and Wellness Initiative in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.