ARIZONA, USA — Why do some people die from COVID-19, and others don’t? It’s a question that has plagued us this entire pandemic.
Thanks to new research at the University of Arizona, we’re closer to getting an answer.
It seems to boil down to an enzyme that’s also found in rattlesnake venom according to Floyd Chilton, Professor & Director of the Precision Nutrition and Wellness initiative at the University of Arizona.
Before we get into the snake stuff, let’s start from the beginning.
"We turned much of my research in my lab towards COVID a year and a half ago," Chilton said. He's been hard at work ever since.
Chilton said he got blood samples from about 130 patients in a New York ICU.
They either had no COVID-19, a mild, moderate, or severe case of the virus.
He did some high-tech artificial intelligence in his lab and discovered two distinct patterns in the samples of people who were dying from the virus.
"What these patterns told us, well one told us that vital organs were in trouble from an energy perspective, but the other looked as if they were being attacked by some enzyme."
He then went looking for that enzyme and said he found the highest concentration of it that has ever been found in humans.
"All of the sudden we were saying 'wow' this enzyme breaks down, shreds membranes typically in bacteria. It's trying to help us, trying to protect us from virus but these levels and with internal organs in such bad shape – these levels attacking internal organs means multiple organ failure and death."
"Could this explain why some people who are very healthy, have no known underlying health conditions die from COVID-19?" Team 12's Jess Winters asked.
"It could Jess," Chilton answered. "We don’t know why certain people who are in the ICU on ventilators all the sudden start producing large amounts of this and don’t stop and why others start to produce it then it goes back down, we don’t know that and right now we’re looking for genetic reasons behind that."
So, where do the rattlesnakes come into play?
"Well so this enzyme is a humanized version, part of the same family as the active ingredient in snake venom so this enzyme has been around a hundred million years."
In simple terms, this enzyme related to snake venom that’s been found in humans is likely causing tremendous damage leading to COVID-19 deaths.
"Humans picked it up and keep it because it helps protect them against bacterial and viral infections because it does what snake venom does, it shreds the membranes of those bacteria and those viruses but once it gets to this level, and we don’t know why it does, the organs begin to lose their ability to hold their membranes together."
Chilton said he tested 154 more blood samples that came out of Banner Tucson and New York to support this research.
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