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Learning from Bats to Combat COVID?

SARS-CoV-2 and Bats: From Flight to Fighting COVID-19
Douglas L. Mann
Center for Cardiovascular Research, Cardiovascular Division, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis MO 63110
Address for Correspondence Dr. Douglas L. Mann Editor-in-Chief JACC: Basic to Translational Science American College of Cardiology 2400 N. Street NW Washington, DC 20037 Email: JACC@acc.org
Bats have been getting a lot of bad press lately following the revelation that the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 shared 96.2% sequence identity with Bat CoV RaTG13 (1). If one can move beyond the zoonotic public relations nightmare caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, bats present an amazing evolutionary story that may provide insights into the development of new therapeutic approaches for treating COVID-19 patients. …. Bats have also developed unique mechanisms that allow them to mount and maintain a strong type I IFN responses, which is the critical first line of anti-viral defense in mammalian cells (3). ….. The increasing recognition that bats serve as flying resorts for zoonotic diseases that become lethal when they jump to humans has prompted scientists to embark on a deeper understanding of exactly how bats are able to tolerate viral infections without experiencing disease. While some of the same anti-viral strategies that bats employ to modulate viral infections are also being tested in COVID-19 clinical trials (e.g. interferons), we still have a lot 5 to learn with respect to how bats are able to mount brisk anti-viral responses without also developing collateral tissue damage secondary to sustained chronic inflammatory signaling. Perhaps one day this type of knowledge might also move beyond treating COVID-19 patients and could also be utilized to treat cardiovascular diseases, wherein chronic inflammation results in collateral damage and untoward patient outcomes (e.g., heart failure).
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