Does nicotine help fight COVID-19? The science behind a novel hypothesis 

#GS3 #Sience&Technology 

Researchers in France have put forward a hypothesis that the presence of nicotine actually equips the body to fight COVID-19. 

  • The researchers’ hypothesis is based on the combination of two different but complementary scientific approaches. 
  • At the centre of the nicotine hypothesis is a receptor that responds to nicotine as well as a chemical called acetylcholine. Hence its name: “nicotinic acetylcholine receptor”, abbreviated as nAChR. 
  • nAChR is found in parts of the nervous system, muscle and certain tissues of organisms including humans. Nicotine is known to bind with the nAChR receptor. 
  • According to the hypothesis, If nicotine is present on the receptor, and the novel coronavirus arrives, then the nicotine would block the interaction. 
  • The nicotine hypothesis involves the nAChR receptor, when SARS-CoV2’s main interactions are with a different receptor: ACE2.  
  • A study last month, in fact, looked at the expression of ACE2 among smokers and non-smokers.  
  • People who have smoked showed a 25% increase in ACE2 expression as compared to non-smokers, researchers reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.  
  • They suggested that smoking increases entry points for the novel coronavirus. 
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