Blood thinners based on the heparan sulfates stop this binding. How this mechanism can be used to protect people is currently being investigated. The researchers are looking at whether it is possible to develop a ‘puff’ against infection with the virus that causes Covid-19.
Researchers Marta Bermejo-Jambrina and Julia Eder, led by Theo Geijtenbeek, discovered that heparan sulfates are involved in an infection with the coronavirus, published Thursday 9 September in the EMBO Journal. These sugar structures are found on all cells of the body. The researchers showed that the virus first binds to it, after which it infects the cells. In addition, it ‘sticks’ via these sugar structures to immune cells circulating in the body, causing it to spread throughout the body. So the coronavirus uses heparansulfates for infection and spread.
The researchers discovered that this interaction is prevented by small pieces of heparan sulfates, the so-called low molecular weight heparins. These are used in the clinic as blood thinners. Treatment of the virus with these blood thinners prevents the coronavirus from entering the epithelial cells from the nose and spreading to other cells. The researchers state that these blood thinners can be used to prevent infection with the coronavirus.
Low molecular weight heparins in mouth and nose
Such blood thinners have long been used to treat blood clots in thrombosis, stroke and infarction. It is currently being investigated whether a ‘puff’ of low molecular weight heparins in the mouth and nose can prevent infection with the coronavirus. Because it is a common infection mechanism, these blood thinners could block several variants of the virus, the researchers said. Risk groups where vaccination does not work may benefit from this. This new method can also be used in an outbreak of new virus variants for which no vaccines are available or against which current vaccines are insufficiently effective.
Blood thinners prevent infection with coronavirus
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