According to a new research study, the COVID-19 virus can increase the fat content of the patient’s body cells to power its viral invasion through the body, with the content of some fats rising up 64x their standard levels.
Scientists stated that in order to cause the infection, the COVID-19 virus takes over the fat-processing mechanism of the body by enhancing the cell’s fat-storing capacity, enabling it to seize the molecular machinery of the body and cause disease.
Keeping that in mind, scientists tried employing several fat-targeting compounds and weight-loss drugs to control the viruses spread in the cell culture. It was discovered that cutting the virus off of its fat fuel reserves stopped it from replicating itself within 48 hours. The findings were published in Nature Communications, a leading scientific journal.
The news of the study comes as all four UK nations saw a considerable rise in infections, with more than 1.7 million positive cases reported last week. While this is the highest estimate of positive infection numbers since the end of April, it is still lower than the record high of 4.9 million infections that were reported at the end of March.
Fikadu Tafesse, the study’s co-author and an assistant professor of immunology and molecular microbiology at Oregon Health & Science University considers the ongoing research very ‘exciting’, while expressing the possibility of a long journey ahead.
Meanwhile, the scientists who worked on the study have cautioned that the results associated with weight-loss drugs were observed in cell culture but not in people.
The team based the study on the observation that people with a high body-mass index (BMI) and chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Specifically, scientists examined SARS-CoV-2's effect on more than 400 lipids in two distinct human cell lines.
They found that with a considerable change in lipid levels, some fats increased by up to 64 times. While one of the cell lines registered a change in nearly 80% of fats, other underwent a transition of more than 50%.