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The Curious Case of Earthworms and COVID-19

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Earthworms have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and are used globally as an ecotoxicological standard test species. Studies of the earthworm Eisenia fetida have shown that exposure to nanomaterials activates a primary corona-response, which is covering the nanomaterial with native proteins, the same response as to biological invaders such as a virus. We outline that the earthworm Eisenia fetida is possibly immune to COVID-19 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2), and we describe the likely mechanisms of highly receptor-specific pore-forming proteins (PFPs). A non-toxic version of this protein is available, and we hypothesize that it is possible to use the earthworm's PFPs based anti-viral mechanism as a therapeutic model for human SARS-CoV-2 and other corona viruses. The proteins can be used as a drug, for example, delivered with a nanoparticle in a similar way to the current COVID-19 vaccines. Obviously, careful consideration should be given to the potential risk of toxicity elicited by lysenin for in vivo usage. We aim to share this view to activate its exploration by the wider scientific community while promoting a potential therapeutic development.

Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 14 okt. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the European Commission Project H2020-NMBP-2017 BIORIMA: BIOmaterial Risk MAnagement (GA No. 760928) and CESAM (UIDB/50017/2020 and UIDP/50017/2020), to FCT/MEC through national funds, and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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