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Scientists have known for a while that SARS-CoV-2’s distinctive “spike” proteins help the virus infect its host by latching on to healthy cells. Now, a major new study shows that the virus spike proteins (which behave very differently than those safely encoded by vaccines) also play a key role in the disease itself.
The paper, published on April 30, 2021, in Circulation Research, also
shows conclusively that COVID-19 is a vascular disease,
demonstrating exactly how the SARS-CoV-2 virus
damages and attacks the vascular system on a cellular level.
(Salk researchers collaborated with scientists at
the University of California San Diego on the paper)
“A lot of people think of it as a respiratory disease, but it’s really a vascular disease,” says Assistant Research Professor Uri Manor, who is co-senior author of the study. “That could explain why some people have strokes, and why some people have issues in other parts of the body.
Representative images of vascular endothelial control cells (left) and cells treated with the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein (right) show that the spike protein causes increased mitochondrial fragmentation in vascular cells.
Click here for a high-resolution image.
Credit: Salk Institute