The summer of 2000 was not a complete disaster, because at least some useful research came out of it. As Childhood Obesity News has mentioned, the young and the very young are susceptible to a particularly miserable form and/or result of COVID-19.
At first, different researchers called it different names, but they seem to have settled into Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C. It was driving the medical experts crazy, not knowing the parameters of this horror, or what it might do next week, let alone several years down the road, and on into the young victim’s adulthood.
Inflammation is an immune system defense
In August, Katherine J. Wu wrote for The New York Times about studies of the role of the immune system in the most severe COVID-19 cases. These topics appear to be related to the mystery of MIS-C and even to the question of whether someone who seems to catch the virus twice, might instead just have one long, recurring case of it.
Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., a Yale immunologist and leader of one of the studies considered here, is quoted as saying, “We are seeing some crazy things coming up at various stages of infection.” Journalist Ku expands,
In certain patients […] the virus appears to make the immune system go haywire. Unable to marshal the right cells and molecules to fight off the invader, the bodies of the infected instead launch an entire arsenal of weapons — a misguided barrage that can wreak havoc on healthy tissues…
There is some evidence that early recognition of their “telltale immune signatures” could enable this type of very susceptible patient to avoid the extreme effect.
The immune system reacts in two stages, the first a relatively crude and brute-force defense mechanism that buys time for the body to muster other, more sophisticated weapons to deal with specific targets. Cytokines are in charge of coordinating these stages, but sometimes, for some reason, they don’t know how to quit. Now, they attack the very organism they were supposed to rescue — their own human — your child.
How does the novel coronavirus carry out this mischief? Maybe by messing with the cytokine interferon. Also, the body’s B cells and T cells really need to “stay on the same page,” but the virus might have figured out a way to scramble their communication. Wu’s article contains a wealth of information as absorbable as this:
[T]he immune system’s responses to pathogens can be roughly grouped into three categories: type 1, which is directed against viruses and certain bacteria that infiltrate our cells; type 2, which fights parasites like worms that don’t invade cells; and type 3, which goes after fungi and bacteria that can survive outside of cells. Each branch uses different cytokines to rouse different subsets of molecular fighters.
A lot of complicated ramifications are involved, and the possibilities are fascinating.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Scientists Uncover Biological Signatures of the Worst Covid-19 Cases,” NYTimes.com, 08/04/20
Image by Šarūnas Burdulis/CC BY-SA 2.0