Health

New deadly aftereffects of Covid confirmed by scientists

A deadly autoimmune disease is on the rise in the north of England, and scientists are now linking the outbreak to Covid-19.

The rare but potentially fatal condition currently plaguing Yorkshire residents is known as anti-MDA5 positive dermatomyositis.

The disease is associated with severe lung disease characterized by scarring of the organ’s tissues.

It is triggered by antibodies that attack an enzyme called MDA5 (melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5) – an RNA receptor essential for recognizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Science IFL reports.

Between 2020 and 2022, doctors in the region reported an unprecedented 60 cases of illness, eight of which were fatal.

An international team of researchers analyzed this spike in cases and noted that it coincides with major waves of coronavirus during the peak years of the pandemic.

“Here we report an increase in the rate of anti-MDA5 positivity tests in our region (Yorkshire) during the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was notable as this entity is relatively rare in the UK” , write the authors in their study, published in the journal eBioMedicine last week.

This phenomenon, they argue, likely indicates “a distinct form of MDA5+ disease in the Covid-19 era”, which they termed “MDA5 autoimmunity and contemporary interstitial lung disease of Covid-19” (MIP- VS).

New deadly aftereffects of Covid confirmed by scientistsAnti-MDA5 is associated with severe lung disease characterized by scarring of the organ’s tissues.(iStock)

Looking at a wide range of data, experts found that patients with MDA5 autoimmunity also tended to have high levels of an inflammatory cytokine (a type of protein) called interleukin-15 (IL-15). .

Commenting on this finding in a statement, one of the study’s lead authors, Pradipta Ghosh, explained that IL-15 “can push cells to the brink of exhaustion and create an immunological phenotype (a set of characteristics ) which is very, very often considered a feature of progressive interstitial lung disease, or fibrosis of the lung.

Of the 60 cases reported in Yorkshire, only eight patients had previously tested positive for Covid-19, suggesting many of them may have had asymptomatic infections they were unaware of.

Worryingly, this implies that even mild infections, which present no initial symptoms, may be sufficient to trigger MDA5 autoimmunity.

“Given that the peak of MDA5 positivity testing followed the peak of Covid-19 cases in 2021 and coincided with the peak of vaccination, these results suggest an immune reaction or autoimmunity against MDA5 during exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and/or vaccine. » conclude the researchers.

According to Ghosh, this worrying trend is unlikely to be limited to Yorkshire, where cases of the autoimmune disease are now being recorded all over the world.

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