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          THE COUNT
          • India on Thursday reported 18,819 Covid cases and 39 fatalities. The cumulative caseload is 4,34,52,164 (1,04,555 active cases) and 5,25,116 fatalities
          • Worldwide: Over 546 million cases and over 6.33 million fatalities.
          • Vaccination in India: Over 1.97 billion doses. Worldwide: Over 11.73 billion doses.
          TODAY’S TAKE
          Covid-19 fattens up our body’s cells to fuel its viral takeover
          Covid-19 fattens up our body’s cells to fuel its viral takeover
          • SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the pandemic, undertakes a massive takeover of the body’s fat-processing system, creating cellular storehouses of fat that empower the virus to hijack our molecular machinery and cause disease, claims a new study.
          • Working on this line of thought, a team of scientists from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory used weight-loss drugs and other fat-targeting compounds to try to stop the virus.
          • Cut off from its fatty fuel, the virus stopped replicating within 48 hours, finds the study published in Nature Communications. This was true for all the variants tested – Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.
          • The team studied the effect of the virus on more than 400 lipids in two different human cell lines. They found a massive shift in lipid levels, with some fats increasing as much as 64-fold.
          • In one cell line, nearly 80% of fats were altered by the virus while in the other one, levels of slightly more than half were changed.
          • The lipids affected most were triglycerides, which are crucial for our health, allowing us to store energy and maintain healthy membranes in our cells.
          • ”As the virus replicates, it needs a continuous supply of energy and more triglycerides could provide that energy in the form of fatty acids but it is unknown exactly how the virus uses these lipids to its advantage," says Fikadu Tafesse, a co-author of the study.
          • The team also found that SARS-CoV-2 doesn't simply boost the number of triglycerides in our cells. It also changes much of our fat-processing system, changing the body's ability to use fat as fuel. However, they caution that much more research remains to see if such compounds hold promise for people diagnosed with Covid.
          Scientists take another step towards decoding MIS-C
          Scientists take another step towards decoding MIS-C
          • One of the more serious, potentially fatal, manifestations of Covid-19 in children is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C). This condition requires admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) in around 60% of cases.
          • What is it: In MIS-C, different parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. The factors associated with the appearance of MIS-C beyond the presence of the virus are still unknown.
          • But scientists from the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) say they have now identified an epigenetic signature associated with the development of MIS-C.
          • The study: The signature has been named EPIMISC in a study recently published in eClinicalMedicine journal that is under The Lancet’s umbrella brand.
          • Peripheral blood samples were recruited from 43 confirmed MIS-C patients. In addition, 69 Covid-negative paediatric samples and 15 Covid-positive paediatric samples without MIS-C were used as controls.
          • The findings: “We found that MIS-C is characterised by a specific deregulation of epigenetic cellular programming that leads to a landscape of hyperinflammation that can damage tissues,” says Manel Esteller, a co-author of the study.
          • The researchers hypothesise that pharmacological inhibition of the CUL2 gene, a mediator of inflammation, could be useful for MIS-C patients since it is known to protect against hyperinflammatory responses.
          • “The described epigenetic signature could also provide new targets for more specific therapies for the disorder,” adds the study.
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          Written by: Rakesh Rai, Sushmita Choudhury, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
          Research: Rajesh Sharma