INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Scientists at the University of Arizona may have discovered the driving mechanism behind COVID-19 deaths.
Those scientists found an enzyme circulates in the body causing organ failure and inflammation, the two main complications resulting in death.
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The enzyme is called a phospholipase. Phospholipase is also found in rattlesnake venom.
“The enzyme has been associated with inflammatory reactions for many years,” Dr. David Crabb, chief medical officer at Eskenazi Health, told News 8. “At controlled levels, it may help orchestrate reactions to clear infectious agents. But when too active, it can be part of how inflammation damages normal tissues.”
That’s exactly what scientists say is happening when a person gets infected with the coronavirus.
In a news release, the lead study author, Dr. Floyd Chilton, said “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 cells thereby contributing to multiple organ failure and death.”
News 8 also asked Crabb about treatments to curb these side effects. While there are some inflammation blockers available such as dexamethasone, he said, when a case is that severe the mortality rate is still very high.