In research conducted on mice, scientists found that the barbed protein that the virus uses to enter cells binds to a receptor and completely reverses the path of pain signals to nerve cells.
Moreover, pain relief can occur within 30 minutes of injury and last for several hours, if not days.
The team, from the University of Arizona of Health Sciences, says the results may explain why nearly half of all patients with Covid-19 do not have symptoms.
Corresponding author Dr. Rajesh Khanna, a professor in the pharmacology department at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, says the study may also explain how the disease spreads so quickly.
He added in a statement: “It was logical to me that perhaps the reason for the continuous spread of” Covid-19 “is that in the early stages, the patient is walking around just fine as if there is nothing wrong, because your pain has been suppressed. You have the virus, “But you don’t feel bad because your pain is over. If we can prove that this pain relief is what is causing the further spread of” Covid-19 “, then this is of tremendous value.”
When a person experiences something that causes pain, a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) binds to a receptor known as neurobilin 1. This triggers a chain reaction that causes nerve cells to become over excited, leading to pain.
The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 has a second receptor that also binds to neurobilin-1, in the same site as VEGF-A.
However, the prickly protein on the outside of the virus reverses the path of pain signals.
“It caught our attention because for the past 15 years my lab has been studying a complex set of proteins and pathways involved in pain management that fall in the direction of the neurobilin stream,” said Khanna. “So, we stepped back and realized that this might mean that Spike is involved in some kind of Treating pain. ”
In the study, published in the journal PAIN, the team decided to test whether the virus could provide pain relief in more than 100 mice.
Half of the mice were injected with inactive spike protein from the Corona virus, which can still bind to the receptor but will not cause infection, while the other half received a placebo.
Pain in mice given spike proteins was eased in just 30 minutes, and pain lasted for at least nine hours.
“The spike protein completely reversed the pain signals caused by VEGF. It didn’t matter if we used very high doses or very low doses – it completely reversed the pain,” Khanna said.
For future research, the team plans to look at whether neurobilin 1 could be a target for pain medications, which could reduce the need to prescribe opioids.
“We are moving forward with designing small molecules against neurobilin, especially natural compounds, which could be important for pain relief,” Khanna explained.
Source: Daily Mail
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