‘Spider Web’ Traps Viruses

‘Spider Web’ Traps Viruses

Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada have discovered a new immune mechanism that kills pathogens in the respiratory tract by acting like a spider web. Once antibodies bind to some viruses, a type of white blood cell called neutrophils can also bind…and then cause the entire complex to explode. This releases a sticky tangle of DNA which acts as a NET: a neutrophil extracellular trap, keeping the virus from reproducing and infecting more cells. This finding is important because it gives insight into a way that antibodies neutralize viruses, a topic that is still not well-understood.

Although this spider web action could be helpful in fighting infections, it could also cause harm by triggering inflammation. In fact, these NETs were found in the lungs of some COVID-19 patients and scientists believe they may have caused difficulty breathing. Therefore, further research is needed to learn more about how to harness the protective qualities of this immune reaction while limiting the damaging effects.

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