FirstHand - in conversation with experts

Prof. Chandrima Shaha gave us the Immunologists' perspective of Covid19.

 

How does our immune system react to Corona infection? What happens at the level of cells? Is there any basis of differential expression of Corona infection among ethnic communities, different gender or even different age groups? Can reinfection of a Corona cured be true? How likely is it that we will get a vaccine for the virus soon? We asked Prof. Chandrima Shaha, the President Indian National Science Academy (INSA), the Eminent Scientist and Former Director, National Institute of Immunology. And what she told us is illuminating. Here is a gist. But, the complete conversation and presentation is revealing.


As soon as a cell is born, it is destined to die eventually. Cells may die due to developmental events, aging, stress and infection. One of the mechanisms by which cells die is known as Programmed cell death (PCD) or apoptosis. The primary function of apoptosis is to dismantle cells neatly and have them cleared from the system without evoking an immune response. Cellular apoptosis is very important for the functioning of the immune system. T-cells die by apoptosis during thymic selection and cytotoxic T-cells kill infected cells through the induction of apoptosis. Therefore, as a protective mechanism, genomes of many pathogens including viruses encode proteins able to modulate apoptotic pathways within the cells and that becomes an important element in the struggle between the host and the pathogen for survival. We do not have much information on how severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus – 2 (SARS-CoV-2) influences PCD in host cells, but information on diseases caused by SARS-CoV suggests depletion of T lymphocytes occurs by PCD or apoptosis. Evidently, the modulation of apoptosis during viral infections determines disease pathogenesis. For protection against the COVID-19, the cells of the immune system and the HLA complex are central and many basic studies needs to be carried out to understand the pathogenesis of the disease.

As soon as a cell is born, it is destined to die eventually. Cells may die due to developmental events, aging, stress and infection.

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