According to a study conducted in mice, an RNA molecule that boosts the body’s early antiviral defence system may provide protection against a variety of SARS-CoV-2 variations, including Delta. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a single-stranded molecule that is required for a variety of biological functions and gene expression.
Researchers at Yale School of Medicine in the US noted that the molecule could lead to new treatments for COVID-19 in immunocompromised patients. The research, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), could also provide an inexpensive therapeutic option for many developing countries that currently lack access to vaccines. The study was conducted before Omicron was identified and did not test for the variant which is behind the current spike in COVID-19 cases in many countries.
The researchers noted that the vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death. However, vaccine availability is extremely limited in many low-income countries, and vaccine-resistant strains of the virus are also emerging, they said.
“This is why, in addition to the use of vaccines in preventing COVID-19, efforts are required to develop efficacious therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2,” said Akiko Iwasaki, a professor at Yale School of Medicine. The body’s first line of defence against SARS-CoV-2 — before the involvement of antibodies and T cells — is thought to depend on receptor molecules such as RIG-I.