What is it about?
COVID-19 is an infection that primarily affects the lungs. People who have severe COVID-19 infection are at risk of lung damage, multiple organ failure, or even death. Recently, researchers have found that patients with COVID-19 have high levels of the enzyme “Bruton tyrosine kinase” (BTK). They also found that treating patients with BTK inhibitors can help improve COVID-19 symptoms. In this article, the authors discuss exactly how BTK plays a role in COVID-19. They explain that BTK affects the activity of immune cells called “lymphocytes.” Thus, BTK inhibitors could reduce the excessive inflammation caused by the immune system in response to COVID-19. BTK inhibitors also affect the activation of certain biochemical pathways that play an important role in “cytokine storm,” an uncontrolled immune response. Unlike other drugs that inhibit cytokine storm, these drugs work through a wider range of pathways and effects. BTK inhibitors could further have anti-inflammatory activity in the lungs and prevent lung injury. The drugs have also been linked to reduced blood clotting in the lungs. BTK inhibitors are also used to treat blood cancer, lung cancer, and aggressive cancers that spread all over the body. The authors suggest that BTK inhibitors could have a potential dual action in patients with cancer and COVID-19. However, BTK inhibitors might interfere with the tumor suppressing p53 gene (which has implications in many types of cancers) in patients with COVID-19. However, more studies are needed to clarify this.
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
Why is it important?
There is an urgent need to find drugs that can treat COVID-19. Research suggests that excessive immune response is why some people have more severe COVID-19 infections than others. BTK inhibitors reduce this excessive response. They are also already in use for cancer treatment. Repurposing them to treat COVID-19 could save precious time in the fight against the disease. KEY TAKEAWAY: BTK inhibitors may reduce the effects of severe COVID-19 infection. This makes them a promising drug for the treatment of COVID-19. However, more studies are required before the drug can be used for COVID-19 treatments.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Relevance of the Bruton Tyrosine Kinase as a Target for COVID-19 Therapy, Molecular Cancer Research, December 2020, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), DOI: 10.1158/1541-7786.mcr-20-0814.
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