Can nicotine help fight Coronavirus? Decoding the science behind this study

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Updated: May 05, 2020 5:22 PM

Smoking kills, many studies have indicated. But can nicotine consumption kill COVID-19?

A hypothesis put forward by researchers in France suggests that nicotine consumption actually equips the human body to combat the viral infection.

Coronavirus transmission: Smoking kills, many studies have indicated. But can nicotine consumption kill COVID-19? In an interesting turn of event, the concept of how smoking can affect a human and make the person more susceptible to the Coronavirus transmission is now analysed and a new study which is being conducted says otherwise. It is believed that if any smoker contacts COVID-19 infection, it increases the chance of risk involved. However, a hypothesis put forward by researchers in France suggests that nicotine consumption actually equips the human body to combat the viral infection, the IE reported. While this is a hypothesis, the researchers are conducting trials to test this, the report said.

The study, according to the report, is being done by many researchers from leading French institutions like the government research institutes CNRS and Inserm, and the hospital network Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Sorbonne University, Collège de France, and Institut Pasteur. The researchers have studied it in two ways, one by statistically analysing COVID-19 deaths in a hospital and the other one is by studying the biochemistry of a human body.

What did the study say?

By statistical analysis, it was found that the number of people (smokers) who died are less than the other population (who did not smoke), the report said adding that the finding was confirmed by an independent study. The second approach was studying human’s biochemistry. According to the report, there is a receptor in the human body that responds to nicotine, and is called nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). These receptors are present in the nervous system, muscle and certain tissues of humans. It is to note that our body functions in lock and key manner, and receptor acts as a key.

The idea behind this is that when nicotine is consumed, it binds to receptor nAChR. Now what is believed is that if the person is infected with the novel Coronavirus (which also binds with receptors), the presence of nicotine will block the interaction between SARS-CoV2 and the receptor. The report highlighted that clinical studies are being conducted to test this. The test will involve a group of healthcare workers and patients to wear nicotine patches. The report said that there will be 1,500 healthcare workers for the trial.

Meanwhile, a widely accepted view is that those who smoke, their lungs have less immunity which makes it difficult to fight the novel Coronavirus. Coronavirus is known to impact the respiratory system of humans.

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