COVID-19 Linked to New Lung Disease with Concerning Symptoms! 

United States: An extremely rare yet lethal autoimmune disease is spreading in Northern England, and recent research shows that this may be due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

More about the disease 

It is mostly commonly known as Anti-MDA5 positive dermatomyositis, a disease that was identified mostly in elderly Asian people. However, post-pandemic, it’s becoming a suspect among the Caucasian population living in Yorkshire. 

This occurred because the antibodies generated caused changes in the MDA5 enzyme (the melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5). The disease is regarded as a progressive interstitial lung disease where the lung tissue is scarred. 

In the period from 2020 to 2022, doctors in Yorkshire registered a shocking 60 cases of MDA5 autoimmunity, which led to eight deaths, as reported. 

COVID-19 Linked to New Lung Disease with Concerning Symptoms. Credit | Shutterstock
COVID-19 Linked to New Lung Disease with Concerning Symptoms. Credit | Shutterstock

Reason for sudden surge in cases 

Researching the number of cases holistically, the scientists observe that this consequent surge in the pandemic happened to happen at almost the same time as the first and second major waves of COVID-19 infections

MDA5 is translated as the RNA sensor that shifts its attention to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It plays the main function in detecting viruses that have the capability of modifying the RNA. 

The study author stated, “Here we report a surge in the rate of anti-MDA5 positivity testing in our region (Yorkshire) in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was notable because this entity is relatively rare in the UK,” as reported. 

Moreover, according to the experts, this phenomenon is possibly indicative of “a distinct form of MDA5+ disease in the COVID-19 era,” which they have labeled “MDA5-autoimmunity and Interstitial Pneumonitis Contemporaneous with COVID-19” (MIP-C). 

The findings of the study were published in the journal eBioMedicine. 

Why the newly identified symptom? 

In order to understand better the mechanisms that are causing the newly identified symptom, the researchers utilized data-crunching tools. Such tools ask for shared traits among members of medical cohorts. 

By doing these steps, the scientists found out that patients experiencing MDA5 autoimmunity are likely to have high levels of an inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-15 (IL-15). 

According to a study author, Pradipta Ghosh noted that IL-15 “can push cells to the brink of exhaustion and create an immunologic phenotype that is very, very often seen as a hallmark of progressive interstitial lung disease, or fibrosis of the lung.” 

As a concluding statement, the researchers said, “Given the peak of MDA5 positivity testing followed the peak of COVID-19 cases in 2021 and coincided with the peak of vaccination, these findings suggest an immune reaction or autoimmunity against MDA5 upon SARS-CoV-2 and/or vaccine exposure,” as reported.