LSU Health New Orleans study reports compound blocks SARS-CoV-2 and protects lung cells

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New Orleans, LA – Research conducted at LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence reports that Elovanoids, bioactive chemical messengers made from omega-3 very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids discovered by the Bazan lab in 2017, may block the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering cells and protect the air cells (alveoli) of the lung. Their findings are published online in Scientific Reports, available here.

“Because the compounds are protective against damage in the brain and retina of the eye and the COVID-19 virus clearly damages the lung, the experiment tested if the compounds would also protect the lung,” notes Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Director of the LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center and senior author of the paper.

The research team tested Elovanoids (ELVs) on infected lung tissue from a 78-year-old man in petri dish cultures. They found that ELVs not only reduced the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to bind to receptors and enter cells, but they also triggered the production of protective, anti-inflammatory proteins that counteract lung damage.

The scientists report that ELVs decreased the production of ACE2. ACE2 is a protein on the surface of many cell types. ACE2 receptors act like locks on cells, and the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins act like keys that open the locks letting the virus enter cells to multiply rapidly. They also demonstrated for the first time that alveolar cells are endowed with pathways for the biosynthesis of ELVs.

“Since SARS-CoV-2 affects nasal mucosa, the GI tract, the eye, and the nervous system, uncovering the protective potential of ELVs expands the scope of our observations beyond the lung,” adds Dr. Bazan. “Our results provide a foundation for interventions to modify disease risk, progression, and protection of the lung from COVID-19 or other pathologies (including some types of pneumonia).”

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The LSU Health New Orleans research team included Drs. Jorgelina M. Calandria, Surjyadipta Bhattacharjee, Marie-Audrey I. Kautzmann, Aram Asatryan, William C. Gordon, Khanh V. Do, Bokkyoo Jun, and Pranab K. Mukherjee, as well as Dr. Nicholas J. Maness from Tulane University and Dr. Nicos A. Petasis from the University of Southern California.

This work was supported by an Institutional Grant from the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana’s health care professionals. The state’s flagship health sciences university, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine with branch campuses in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the state’s only School of Dentistry, Louisiana’s only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu, http://www.twitter.com/LSUHealthNO, or http://www.facebook.com/LSUHSC.

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