Discovered one of the reasons why children get much less sick from Covid-19 than adults: the key is in a molecule present in the respiratory tract, essential for the SarsCov2 virus to spread in the body, but which is much less active in children .
The discovery, to be published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, is due to the researchers of the CEINGE-Advanced Biotechnology of Naples and of the Federico II University.
The group led by Roberto Berni Canani, professor of Pediatrics at the Federico II University of Naples and first researcher at Ceinge, studied the virus attack mechanisms by analyzing biological samples obtained from the upper respiratory tract and the intestine (the two main routes of entry of coronavirus into the body) of healthy children and adults. In this way, they found that the Neuropilin 1 molecule is much less active in the epithelial tissue that lines the children's nose internally.
Neuropilin 1 is a receptor of the SarsCov2 virus, able to enhance its entry into cells and spread throughout the body. It is therefore a molecule with a crucial role in allowing the attack to the ACE-2 receptor,with which the coronavirus spike protein binds to enter human cells.
"We have identified an important factor capable of conferring protection against the SarsCoV2 virus in children - comments Berni Canani - which is added to other immunological factors that we are studying". Compared to the news coming from Indonesia, on the increase in Covid cases among children, Berni Canani concludes, "it would be necessary to understand what their initial clinical conditions are. Malnutrition and previous illnesses can in fact affect the serious course of Covid" .