Why in News?
- Scientists have decoded how coronavirus quickly damages lung cells.
How does it infect?
- Scientists have created one of the most comprehensive maps to date of the molecular activities that are triggered inside the lung cells at the onset of the viral infection.
- In the latest research, scientists simultaneously infected tens of thousands of lab-grown human lung cells with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and tracked what happens in these cells during the moments after infection.
- The scientists found that when SARS-CoV-2 takes over, it completely changes the cells’ metabolic processes. The virus even damages the cells’ nuclear membranes within three to six hours after infection.
- The scientists explained that the cell’s nuclear membrane surrounds the nucleus, which holds the majority of the genetic information, and controls and regulates normal cellular functions.
- With the nucleus compromised by the coronavirus, things rapidly take a bad turn for the entire cell.
- The lung cells — which normally play a role in maintaining the essential gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that occurs when we breathe —die under this siege.
- The cells also emit distress signals which boost inflammation as they die, triggering a cascade of biological activity that accelerates more cell death.
- This eventually leads to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and lung failure.