It is possible to impair the mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 causes ischemic stroke, a complication that greatly increases the risk of death and that affects 20% of the most severe cases. The key is in a receptor present on platelets to which the virus binds, and which can now be blocked. discovery, published Reported in the journal Circulation Research, this is due to the group of Francesco Violi of Sapienza University in Rome and paves the way for a treatment that can be used both preventively and in the acute stages of the disease.
In order to facilitate a rapid transition to clinical trials, the research group and the president of Sapienza University, Antonella Polimeni, chose not to patent the discovery, thus allowing the results of the study to circulate freely in the scientific community, for the benefit of collective health and security.
By examining the blood of about 50 patients, the study authors showed that the virus’s spike protein (the molecular claw it uses to enter human cells) also binds to the TLR4 receptor of platelets circulating in the blood, causing them to accumulate. Hence the blood clot.
However, the process can be blocked by a molecule that disrupts the platelet receptor: “The fact that a platelet thrombosis is blocked by an inhibitor of the TLR4 receptor opens up important clinical prospects in the treatment of Covid-19 patients – emphasizes Violi – since this inhibitor can be used as an anticoagulant drug “.