BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: infection

How COVID-19 Antibodies Are Causing Long-Term Effects

The COVID-19 vaccine has been essential in flattening the curve of the pandemic, but there have been reports of various side effects derived from the vaccine. These side effects include allergic reactions, heart inflammation, and blood clotting. These symptoms have been commonly thought to be because of the patient’s immune system. But, this question as to why these immune responses to both the vaccines and responses to the virus itself have been possibly answered in a new article in The New England Journal of Medicine.

COVID-19 vaccines (2021) A

Various types of the COVID-19 Vaccine

 

William Murphy and Dan Longo, both Professors of Dermatology and Medicine respectively, believe that the Network Hypothesis by Niels Jerne contains insight as to why these side effects occur. In this hypothesis, Jerne details the process as to which the immune system regulates antibodies. This process is a cascade, in which the immune system launches antibody responses initially to an antigen. These antibodies can trigger an antibody response toward themselves, causing them to disappear over time. Anti-idiotype antibodies, also known as secondary antibodies, bind and deplete the initial antibody responses. They have the ability to act like the original antigen itself, which would initiate side effects to the person. 

SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the protein responsible for binding to ACE2 Receptors

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, enters the body by binding its protein spikes to the ACE2 receptor, thus gaining entry into the cell. The immune system then reacts by producing antibodies for the virus, which neutralizes the effects of the virus. However, these antibodies can cause immune responses with the anti-idiotype antibodies. These secondary antibody responses clear the initial antibodies, which results in the depletion of the initial antibodies and a weakened efficiency for antibody production. 

 

Murphy states that “A fascinating aspect of the newly formed anti-idiotype antibodies is that some of their structures can be a mirror image of the original antigen and act like it is binding to the same receptors that the viral antigen binds. This binding can potentially lead to unwanted actions and pathology, particularly in the long term.” He and Longo also believe that these anti-idiotype antibodies can also target the same ACE2 receptors. 

 

In an article published by The Conversation, the ACE2 receptors play an important role in the immune response against SARS-CoV-2. The authors, Krishna Sriram, Paul Insel, and Rohit Loomba, write that the “SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to ACE2 – like a key being inserted into a lock – prior to entry and infection of cells. Hence, ACE2 acts as a cellular doorway – a receptor – for the virus that causes COVID-19.” Personally, this fact baffles me, since it’s truly both amazing and terrifying that non-living viruses are able to manipulate and finesse their way into infecting the host cells. 

 

Returning to the main article, the ACE2 receptors could be responsible for the long-lasting effects being reported to both the vaccine and the virus itself. These responses can also answer why these long-term effects can occur, even long after the infection has passed. 

 

These terms are apparent in our AP Biology classroom, specifically regarding the Immunity System. The immune response used to combat SARS-CoV-2 is Adaptive Immunity, which develops after exposure to pathogens including bacteria, viruses, toxins, or other foreign substances. Due to the complexity of SARS-CoV-2, Adaptive Immunity is used because it’s a specific but slower response to the virus. Both B Lymphocytes and T Lymphocytes are used in the response against COVID-19 but during different stages of the infection. When the virus first enters the body, the Immune System performs Humoral Response, in which B Cells bind to the antigen and secrete antibodies that are made by B-Plasma cells, and these antibodies are stored in the B-Memory Cells to prevent future infection. In the case that COVID-19 enters and infects a cell, the Cell-Mediated Response is used to kill off infected cells using T-Killer Cells and T-Memory Cells are created to prevent future infection.

How do you think this research will be implemented for the prevention of these long-term effects? Let me know in the comments below and stay safe!

HIV > CRISPR-Cas 9

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:HIV#/media/File:HIV-infected_H9_T_Cell_(6813314147).jpg

HIV Infecting a Cell

CRISPR-Cas 9 is an extremely advanced gene editing tool. This tool has efficiently created ways to make precise and targeted changes to the genome of living cells. However, in a study in the journal Cell Reports, scientists from the McGill University AIDS Center in Canada discovered drawbacks in using CRISPR to treat HIV. Instead of simply removing the virus from affected cells, the process of using CRISPR can also strengthen the infection by causing it to replicate at a much faster rate.

HIV has always been a popular disease to conduct research on. Scientists are constantly attempting to come up with ways to kill HIV. Several cures to HIV have been developed such as various as antiretroviral drugs, however, these medicines stop being effective after the patient has ceased to take them. As scientists have started to utilize gene editing tools to remove HIV they have been noticing the huge drawback. They realize that while the gene alteration allows the virus to be killed off in some cases, the resulting scar tissue can lead to the infection becoming stronger! Kamel Khalili, a scientist at Temple University, pointed out that the key to eliminating HIV could lie in attacking the virus at different sites using CRISPR.

Link to Original Study

Link to Original Article 

Link to Original Photo

Animal Overdose and Its Effect on Humans

As we all know, antibiotics can be used to cure infections and kill bacteria, but the also often come with the many side effects that the infomercials so quickly warn us of. However, we often overlook aspects of antibiotics and rely on them to heal us in a variety of ways.

This then causes too much reliance on antibiotics, and in fact, humans are becoming immune to these medicines and too much use takes from their ability to have positive results.

This displays the alignment of veal that has been modified and undergone treatment to fight possiblebacteria.

This displays the alignment of veal that has been modified and undergone treatment to fight possible bacteria.

Animals have been receiving harsh treatment and experience weight gain as a result of being given antibiotics for growth promotion in order to sell more meat without disease.  However, animals experience the same resistance over time. The Environmental Working Group is concerned about this, because most of the meat sold in grocery stores is made up of a large amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This, too, can easily be passed on to humans by consumption, as the Food and Drug Administration states.

Due to this resistance to antibiotics and its misuse, many are concerned that the amount of antibiotics served to both humans and animals needs to be lowered, which is much easier said than done. The ultimate goal would be to continue to fight bacteria as opposed to promoting its resistance, as one would assume. However, it is interesting to know how large of an affect antibiotics have on both the human and animal reactions in their bodily systems, and how misuse can alter the bacteria as well as the reason for their need.

Article Link:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-are-the-consequences-of-antibiotic-overuse/

Additional Links:

http://www.cdc.gov/narms/animals.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/overview.html

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378100.htm

Image Link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veal#mediaviewer/File:MIN_Rungis_viandes_de_boucherie_veau.jpg

 

Depression Infection?

Melancholy_2

 

Major Depression Disorder (MDD), most commonly known as “Depression”, is typically thought of as a genetic or neurological disease. However, Dr. Tuhran Canli, Associate Professor of Psychology and Radiology at Stony Brook University, suggests that MDD be recategorized as a result of a parasitic, bacterial, or viral infection. Canli’s paper, Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, argues how possible pathways from these infections could cause MDD.

The causes of MDD are still unclear, therefore the research is delving more into the causes over the treatments. Dr. Canli suggests that by redefining MDD as an infectious disease, it will push future researchers to focus their attention on parasites, bacteria, or viruses.

Canli’s three major arguments for this change of MDD’s etiology are as follows:

1. MDD patients have a loss of energy, typically found in an illness. Also, the “inflammatory biomarkers in MDD suggest an illness-related origin”.

2. Parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections alter emotional behavior in humans.

3. The body is an ecosystem, made for microorganisms and genetics. These infections alter that ecosystem.

The redefinition of the causes of MDD could have significant help in finding the cause and eventual better treatment of the disease. Has depression been an infection all along?

 

Original article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141114124307.htm

Picture: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melancholy_2.PNG

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar