A new study from the University of Arizona School of Health Sciences says SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, could give people infected with it a pain-relieving effect that ultimately makes it easier to spread from person to person. According to the researchers, this pain relief may explain why many people have no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, a problem that drives the spread of the virus.
Now, researchers have learned how the virus infects human hosts: using ACE2 subjects on cell membranes to enter infected people. Recently, another study found a second subject, possibly the SARS-CoV-2 virus, known as neuropilin-1.
When a protein called VEGF-A binds to it, neuroprotein-binds play a big role in experiencing pain, especially when it comes to experiencing pain. The new study suggests that SARS-CoV-2 binds to the neuropilin complex in the same way as VEGF-A, reversing pain signals triggered by the latter protein. Only “very low doses” of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are needed to reverse the pain signals caused by VEGF-A binding to neuroproteins.
This pain relief may explain why many people infected with SARS-CoV-2 can be asymptomatic for days without symptoms, or with only mild symptoms, while transmitting the virus to those around them. However, more research is needed to determine what role this pain relief mechanism plays throughout the virus.
At the same time, the researchers note that the findings pave the way for a possible future class of non-opioid painkillers, which are urgent given their addictive nature, explained dr Rajesh Khanna, co-author of the study.
We are advancing the design of small molecules for neuroprotease, especially natural compounds, which may be important for pain relief. We’re going through a pandemic, but we’re also facing an opioid epidemic. Obviously they’re colliding, and our findings have a huge impact on both. SARS-CoV-2 taught us about viral transmission, but COVID-19 also allows us to use neuroprotease as a new non-opioid method to combat the opioid epidemic.