Australian Study: Lung Protein May Prevent COVID

Image copyright: The Guardian

The Facts

  • According to a University of Sydney study published in the journal PLOS Biology on Friday, a protein produced in the lungs called LRRC15 can stick to the COVID virus to form a natural protective barrier to block infection, which could explain why different people suffer from different severities of the disease, or not at all.

  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID infects humans by using a spike protein that binds to the human ACE2 receptor, of which lung cells have a high level, thus resulting in severe harm to the organ. LRRC15 is like ACE2 in that SARS-CoV-2 can bind to it, however, unlike ACE2, it immobilizes the virus once attached.

The Spin

Narrative A

Though there's still research to be done, this study has discovered a novel virus-binding protein that could help create future treatment strategies. Not only can LRRC15 capture and immobilize COVID in human airways, but it can possibly even help fibroblast cells pass these immobilized cells onto the lung for further protection. This is an exciting breakthrough.

Narrative B

This is undoubtedly promising news, but it's tainted by its late arrival. Although the vaccine has helped protect millions, it consumed researchers' energy and resources, resulting in research like this — which should have taken place when the pandemic began — being neglected. Doctors should learn this lesson and spread out their resources should another viral outbreak ever occur again.

Metaculus Prediction

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