Enzyme similar to one found in snake venom may be driving covid mortalities

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Researchers have discovered what could be a contributing factor in covid fatalities. The study involves an enzyme that’s similar to rattlesnake venom. We learned more from the UofA’s Floyd Chilton, the study’s senior researcher.

“It is not exactly the same enzyme, it’s a humanized form of the enzyme but the sequence homology and similarities are striking,” Chilton said.

Higher concentrations of this enzyme lead to vital organs being mistaken for bacteria and viral infections.

“This enzyme has some really nasty biology that can lead to mortality for those people who succumb to the disease. This wasn’t expected,” Chilton said.

Chilton says his team has found some of the highest quantities of this enzyme that have ever been found.

“Understanding the biology of this enzyme and understanding what it has the capacity to do really pointed us in the direction of this could be playing a major role in the mortality that we see in sever cases,” Chilton said.

The enzyme is connected to inflammation in humans and breaks down the bacterial membranes in viruses.

“It is there to protect us from disease and viral resistance, however once it gets to extraordinarily high concentrations where we’re seeing here then at the same time our vital organs begin to lose their fat symmetry,” Chilton said.

Chilton said the very good news regarding this enzyme is the potential to be used in treatment for covid patients, but this will take time because of clinical trials.


Floyd Chilton, Ph.D./Senior Researcher, UArizona & Associate Director

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