: In a shocking new hypothesis, researchers from Charles University in Prague are calling to attention the high chilling possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be unleashing a wave of prion diseases - deadly, incurable brain disorders - on the unsuspecting population. The implications of these findings are so far-reaching that they could change our understanding of the virus and its long-term consequences for human health.
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Prions are misfolded proteins that wreak havoc on the brain, causing devastating neurodegenerative diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Unlike viruses and bacteria, prions don't contain any genetic material, yet they still manage to spread and cause disease.
What's more, as covered in previous studies and also COVID-19 News
coverages, the symptoms of prion diseases often mirror those of long COVID, raising the horrifying question: could COVID-19 be causing an epidemic of prion disorders?
The researchers' hypothesis hinges on the role of mitochondria - tiny, energy-producing structures within our cells - in the development of prion diseases.
Mitochondria, which are critical for maintaining cellular energy supply, can be damaged by prions, leading to neurodegeneration. When the COVID-19 virus infects cells, it can also cause mitochondrial damage and increase the production of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). This creates a perfect storm for the emergence of prions, especially in individuals who may be genetically predisposed to prion diseases.
The study points out that some tissues may be more vulnerable to this process, potentially obscuring the true cause of illness in some cases. This raises the alarming possibility that some cases of long COVID may actually be the result of spontaneous prion production triggered by the virus. Although full-blown prion disorders are universally fatal, the misfolded proteins produced in response to COVID-19 infection might be cleared from the body after a brief period. However, in the absence of another immunological challenge, the body's natural defense mechanisms may be overwhelmed in the presence of full-blown prion disease.
The researchers also propose a possible evolutionary explanation for the emergence of prions. They suggest that prions may represent a "misstep" in the complex, ancient interactions between viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic cells. Given the potential of proteins to change shape and their spontaneous appearance under stress, prions could have evolved as a pathological byproduct of these interactions.
This ground-breaking study raises urgent questions about the potential long-term neurological consequences of COVID-19. With millions of people worldwide affected by long COVID and its debilitating symptoms, the discovery of a possible link between the virus and prion diseases demands immediate attention. As we continue to grapple with the ongoing pandemic, understanding the full extent of the virus's impact on our brains is of paramount importance.
If the researchers' hypothesis is corre
ct, the fight against COVID-19 could become a battle for humanity's very survival. As the virus continues to spread and mutate, it may unleash an unprecedented wave of deadly, incurable brain diseases upon the world.
This terrifying scenario should serve as a wake-up call for involved in terms of medical research and also experts and health authorities.
Time is running out, and our brains may be at stake. We must act now to avert a global prion plague and safeguard the future of humankind.
The hypothesis was published as an article in the peer reviewed journal: Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (Springer).
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