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Unraveling the Immune Response: The Underlying Cause of Neurological Damage in Acute Viral Infections

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Mason Walker
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Unraveling the Immune Response: The Underlying Cause of Neurological Damage in Acute Viral Infections

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In the quest for understanding the complex mechanics of acute viral infections such as Zika and COVID-19, researchers from McMaster University have made a remarkable discovery. They found that neurological damage in these diseases is primarily caused by the body's immune response, specifically a unique population of T cells known as NKG2D+CD8, rather than the virus itself. This ground-breaking finding has opened new avenues for the treatment of neurological diseases triggered by acute viral infections.

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Aggressive Immune Response Leads to Neurological Damage

The immune system is our body's defense mechanism against harmful pathogens. However, sometimes this system can turn against us. This is what happens in some acute viral infections. The researchers discovered that the aggressive response of NKG2D+CD8 T cells, triggered by the body producing large amounts of inflammatory proteins called cytokines, can lead to neurological damage. This damage is seen in viral infections such as Zika, COVID-19, and septic shock.

The Role of NKG2D+CD8 T Cells in Acute Viral Infections

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NKG2D+CD8 T cells are a specific type of immune cells that play a crucial role in controlling viral infections. However, when the body is under an acute viral attack, these cells can get overactivated due to the production of large amounts of inflammatory cytokines. This overactivation leads to a non-specific activation of immune cells resulting in collateral damage, especially in the brain. The researchers believe that this mechanism is responsible for the neurological damage seen in infections such as Zika and COVID-19.

New Target for Treatment

This discovery offers a new target for treatments of neurological diseases sparked by acute viral infections. A promising antibody treatment that can block and treat neurotoxicity is already in clinical trials. This could potentially revolutionize the way we treat these diseases and reduce the neurological damage caused by them.

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Understanding the Immune Response to SARS CoV 2

There are ongoing studies to understand the immune responses to SARS CoV 2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. The Canadian COVID 19 Prospective Cohort Study (CANCOV) and other studies at different universities aim to understand the long-term immune protection in COVID-19 patients, and the transmission of maternal antibodies to SARS CoV 2 through human milk. These studies will help improve the standard of care for COVID-19 patients and evaluate vaccines and immune-based treatments.

Preventing Surgical Site Infections

Another study conducted by researchers from McMaster University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that the use of iodine povacrylex in alcohol to disinfect a patient's skin could prevent surgical site infections in patients undergoing surgery for a closed fracture. This suggests that choosing the right skin disinfectant can have a significant impact on patient outcomes.

These findings underscore the importance of understanding the immune response and its effects on our health. From causing neurological damage in acute viral infections to preventing surgical site infections, the role of the immune system is far-reaching. The ongoing research is a testament to the relentless pursuit of science to uncover the secrets of our body's defense mechanism and use it to improve healthcare.

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