Researchers from the University of Malta have made a breakthrough in understanding the prolonged and debilitating symptoms experienced by individuals with long COVID-19. A new study, published in the scientific journal BBA Molecular Basis of Disease, has identified a possible cause for these ongoing symptoms and has implications for the development of medications to treat long COVID-19.
Long COVID-19 refers to the condition where individuals continue to experience symptoms even after recovering from the initial infection. These symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, ‘brain fog’, and muscle weakness. Approximately one in three individuals who recover from COVID-19 are affected by this condition.
The researchers conducted experiments using fruit flies to investigate the role of the ACE2 receptor, which the coronavirus latches onto, in long COVID-19 symptoms. They found that depletion of the ACE2 receptor led to fatigue and diminished mobility in the fruit flies. This suggests a breakdown in communication between nerves and muscles in organisms with downregulated ACE2 levels.
In humans, various factors such as virus persistence and autoimmune responses may contribute to the decrease in ACE2 levels after a coronavirus infection. Understanding this mechanism could be crucial in developing therapies to alleviate the chronic complications associated with long COVID-19.
The study provides important insights into the lasting impact of COVID-19 and may pave the way for effective treatments for long COVID-19. By identifying the role of ACE2 depletion in symptoms, researchers may be able to target this pathway and develop medications to alleviate the debilitating effects of long COVID-19.
The research was funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology, highlighting the importance of scientific funding in advancing our understanding of COVID-19 and developing potential treatments.
Overall, this study contributes to the growing body of knowledge surrounding long COVID-19 and offers hope for individuals suffering from ongoing symptoms. As researchers continue to uncover the underlying mechanisms of the disease, we may eventually see effective therapies becoming available to help those affected by long COVID-19.