Early Response in Nasal Cells May Predict Severe COVID-19

(Reuters) — How cells lining the nose respond to the coronavirus might someday be used to predict how sick a person will become with COVID-19, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed immune activity in cells taken from patients’ nasal swabs at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, comparing those who became only mildly ill to those who eventually required mechanical support with breathing.

“When our cells in the nose meet a virus like SARS-CoV-2…the ways that they sound the alarm to generate a rapid antiviral response vary greatly across people,” said Jose Ordovas-Montanes of Harvard University.

“Individuals who went on to develop severe COVID-19 had a significantly muted alarm system,” regardless of how much virus was present, Ordovas-Montanes told Reuters.

Lack of a strong initial antiviral response might allow the virus to spread more rapidly, increasing the chances that it can move from the upper to lower airways, Ordovas-Montanes and colleagues suggest in a report published in the journal Cell.

“If further studies support our findings, we could use the same nasal swabs we use to diagnose COVID-19 to identity potentially severe cases before severe disease develops, creating an opportunity for effective early intervention,” study co-author Carly Ziegler, a graduate student at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a press statement.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3iffJLa Cell, online July 23, 2021.

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