MPN and Covid-19, the Corona Virus: It’s a war and we’re in the primary fire zone. On the one hand we’re particularly vulnerable. Compromised immune system, many of us older, some with co-morbidities. On the other hand we have a few distinct advantages and some powerful allies..
Our immune system is our first and last line of defense. We’ve got barriers to entry like skin and microbiota, lymphatic transport ssytems, powerful neutrophils, mast cells, leukocytes like Natural Killer Cells, T Cells. As MPN patients and caregivers we are acutely aware of the need to strengthen our immune defense through diet and exercise, meditation, yoga, and other alternative means. And because of our exposure to genetic engineering, we have a clearer view of the enemy.
The corona virus may be more cunning, proliferative and lethal than its cousins like SARs. But covid-19 is a virus, a particularly small one, a patch of DNA/RNA covered with a fatty vulnerable skin. It is said that sequencing of its DNA/RNA is 96% identical to the bat sequences found in SARs. And the other 4% may be mostly pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world, a harmless vegetarian with the misfortune to be prized by the Chinese for its meat and medicinal scales. Maybe. It doesn’t matter. Bat, pangolin, or or some other mutant, it’s just a matter of time before we wipe it out.
The corona virus is preying on the global human population but without its own reproductive system and its limited survival repertoire, the virus preys on everything. From time immemorial it’s favorite prey have been the bacteria. And before the Earth was fully cooled, bacteria devised a strategy to counter-attack and kill viruses.
Bacteria took a sample of the invading virus’ DNA and stashed it in its own DNA, bracketed by stop signals at either end and integrated it with the Cas9 killer enzyme. That way the bacterial immune system “remembers” – has the key to the virus’ lock– and concentrates its killer cells defense. In 2014, 5 billion years or so later, Humans discovered the trick and called it CRISPR.
Ultimately we will win this war. At this guerrilla conflict stage of conflict, our strategy is to hunker down, isolate, deprive corona virus of its prey while we develop the counter-attack of genetic based meds and the shield of vaccine.
Hang in, wash your hands often, use your enforced isolation well.