New York – Researchers have identified specific proteins within our lungs that can protect us from SARS-CoV-2 infections, potentially opening the door to new antiviral therapies.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers used CRISPR technology to test the impact of every human gene on SARS-CoV-2 infections in human lung cells.
Their findings revealed new pathways that the virus relies on to infect the cells, as well as the antiviral pathways that help protect against viral infection.
Notably, the team from the University of California-Berkeley showed that mucins – the main component of mucus found in the lungs – seem to help block the Sars-CoV-2 virus from entering our cells.
“Our data suggest that mucins play a key role in restricting Sars-CoV-2 infection by acting as a barrier to viruses that are attempting to access our lung epithelial cells, said Scott Biering, post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
“Further, our data suggest that mucin expression levels in an individual’s lungs may impact Covid progression,” Biering added.
Researchers discovered that MUC1 and MUC4, types of mucins found in lung cell membranes, defend lung cells from infection.