Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2 infection leads to severe disease associated with cytokine storm, vascular dysfunction, coagulation, and progressive lung damage. It affects several vital organs, seemingly through a pathological effect on endothelial cells.
Researchers have identified 5 of the 29 proteins that make up the SARS-CoV-2 virus that are responsible for damaging blood vessels. The researchers hope that the identification of these proteins will help develop targeted drugs for COVID-19 that reduce vascular damage.
"We see a very high incidence of vascular disease and blood clotting, for example stroke and heart attack, among COVID patients," says Dr. Ben Maoz of the Sagol School of Neuroscience.
"We tend to think of COVID as primarily a respiratory disease, but the truth is that coronavirus patients are up to three times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. All the evidence shows that the virus severely damages the blood vessels or the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels. However, to this day the virus has been treated as one entity."
"When the coronavirus enters the body, it begins to produce 29 proteins, a new virus is formed. In this process, our blood vessels turn from opaque tubes into kind of permeable nets or pieces of cloth, and in parallel there is an increase in blood clotting."