SAMSUN, Turkey

A group of Turkish scientists in the Black Sea province of Samsun finalized their research Tuesday on causes for the severity of COVID-19 in the elderly and patients with chronic illnesses. 

Dr. Metin Ozgen and Dr. Demet Yalcin from Turkey’s Ondokuz Mayis University Hospital began conducting research last March to discover the reasons why the elderly and those with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma suffer seriously from the novel coronavirus.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dr. Ozgen said the sRAGE pathway, a series of chemical reactions occurring inside a cell, does not work at the desired rate and is therefore unable to cleanse the blood of “wastes.”

Noting that inflammation is triggered in the body due to the waste products no longer being eliminated, Ozgen said that “in young people and children, these [waste] products are cleared and the illness is milder.”

He said the research has its advantages as it could help aid the treatment process for COVID-19.

“In the next step, we will test some drugs that will activate the metabolic pathway. While testing them, we will determine whether the COVID-19 infection is milder…We will begin animal experiments to test the metabolic pathway for drugs that increase the sRAGE protein,” he added.

Dr. Demet Yalcin Kehribar, who was also part of the research, said they had examined the blood levels of hundreds of COVID-19 patients in Samsun.

Kehribar said the coronavirus illness could be deadly in patients with chronic illnesses and the elderly and added that the human body tries to eliminate a number of “waste products” from the system and that system is known as the sRAGE pathway.

“In this study, we found that the sRAGE system works very well in children and young people. But sRAGE also ages, and metabolic activity decreases as we get older,” she said.

“If we could introduce drugs that would strengthen the sRAGE system, perhaps we can stop the elderly from developing a severe COVID-19 infection.”

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