Posts Tagged ‘lungs’

Some COVID-19 Pneumonia Cases Are Like Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Doctors around the world are still learning about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but it’s obvious that the most serious cases include severe respiratory symptoms that can damage a person’s lungs. The COVID-19 can cause pneumonia which can lead to a more severe condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Fluid buildup in the lungs prevents them from filling with air, decreasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the bloodstream.

At the start, COVID-19 pneumonia presents with the resulting characteristics such as low elastance (the amount of gas in the lung), low ventilation-to-perfusion, low lung weight and low lung recruit ability (amount of non-aerated tissue). When the coronavirus reaches the lungs, it causes viral pneumonia. The lungs can then become filled with fluid. The COVID-19 disease can be mild, but more severe cases may require hospitalization. The infections associated with the disease can  escalate to the point a patient develops ARDS. The higher mortality rate for COVID-19 patients who develop ARDS may be attributable to other symptoms of the coronavirus.

Like many viruses, the respiratory droplets related with COVID-19 attach to the back of a person’s throat or nose, then move through the respiratory tract. The human body replies to viruses by trying to fight them off, which causes inflammation. Some scientists also suggested that pneumonia that presents in COVID-19 tends to be bilateral, meaning it affects both lungs. Fluid buildup in the lungs prevents them from filling with air, decreasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the bloodstream.

Medical experts are correspondingly trying to determine if pneumonia caused by the coronavirus is more likely to become severe and cause ARDS. The limited number of tests performed on COVID-19 patients makes it impossible to say at this time. Doctors may prescribe antiviral medication to treat pneumonia caused by the flu. It’s unclear if any medicines are reliable for patients diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Pneumonia caused by a virus tends to show up on CT scans as hazy white patches known as ground-glass opacities. The doctors at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City who studied CT scans from COVID-19 patients noticed those hazy patches tended to cluster around the edge of both lungs.

Imaging the lungs in a patient who may have COVID-19 can be problematic, since imaging machines necessitate thorough disinfecting after they’re used to take an X-ray or CT scan of a patient suspected of having the coronavirus.



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Highlighted Progress in Science – 2017

Reporter: Sudipta Saha, PhD


  1. Lungs can supply blood stem cells and also produce platelets: Lungs, known primarily for breathing, play a previously unrecognized role in blood production, with more than half of the platelets in a mouse’s circulation produced there. Furthermore, a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells has been identified that is capable of restoring blood production when bone marrow stem cells are depleted.


  1. A new drug for multiple sclerosis: A new multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, which grew out of the work of UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) neurologist was approved by the FDA. Ocrelizumab, the first drug to reflect current scientific understanding of MS, was approved to treat both relapsing-remitting MS and primary progressive MS.


  1. Marijuana legalized – research needed on therapeutic possibilities and negative effects: Recreational marijuana will be legal in California starting in January, and that has brought a renewed urgency to seek out more information on the drug’s health effects, both positive and negative. UCSF scientists recognize marijuana’s contradictory status: the drug has proven therapeutic uses, but it can also lead to tremendous public health problems.


  1. Source of autism discovered: In a finding that could help unlock the fundamental mysteries about how events early in brain development lead to autism, researchers traced how distinct sets of genetic defects in a single neuronal protein can lead to either epilepsy in infancy or to autism spectrum disorders in predictable ways.


  1. Protein found in diet responsible for inflammation in brain: Ketogenic diets, characterized by extreme low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimens are known to benefit people with epilepsy and other neurological illnesses by lowering inflammation in the brain. UCSF researchers discovered the previously undiscovered mechanism by which a low-carbohydrate diet reduces inflammation in the brain. Importantly, the team identified a pivotal protein that links the diet to inflammatory genes, which, if blocked, could mirror the anti-inflammatory effects of ketogenic diets.


  1. Learning and memory failure due to brain injury is now restorable by drug: In a finding that holds promise for treating people with traumatic brain injury, an experimental drug, ISRIB (integrated stress response inhibitor), completely reversed severe learning and memory impairments caused by traumatic brain injury in mice. The groundbreaking finding revealed that the drug fully restored the ability to learn and remember in the brain-injured mice even when the animals were initially treated as long as a month after injury.


  1. Regulatory T cells induce stem cells for promoting hair growth: In a finding that could impact baldness, researchers found that regulatory T cells, a type of immune cell generally associated with controlling inflammation, directly trigger stem cells in the skin to promote healthy hair growth. An experiment with mice revealed that without these immune cells as partners, stem cells cannot regenerate hair follicles, leading to baldness.


  1. More intake of good fat is also bad: Liberal consumption of good fat (monounsaturated fat) – found in olive oil and avocados – may lead to fatty liver disease, a risk factor for metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Eating the fat in combination with high starch content was found to cause the most severe fatty liver disease in mice.


  1. Chemical toxicity in almost every daily use products: Unregulated chemicals are increasingly prevalent in products people use every day, and that rise matches a concurrent rise in health conditions like cancers and childhood diseases, Thus, researcher in UCSF is working to understand the environment’s role – including exposure to chemicals – in health conditions.


  1. Cytomegalovirus found as common factor for diabetes and heart disease in young women: Cytomegalovirus is associated with risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease in women younger than 50. Women of normal weight who were infected with the typically asymptomatic cytomegalovirus, or CMV, were more likely to have metabolic syndrome. Surprisingly, the reverse was found in those with extreme obesity.


























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