Human cells are like little factories, producing goods that fuel the body. That is, until viruses—opportunistic strands of RNA or DNA—arrive with their own subversive agendas. They infiltrate the body’s manufacturing industry, find gullible factory workers and convince them to abandon their programming to take up new orders. If the immune system doesn’t arrest and disarm them in time, before long, the virus may be running the show.
SARS-CoV-2 has earned a particularly “evil genius” reputation when it comes to hijacking the operations of human cells. It is especially easy to contract and especially hard to defeat, and thanks to findings from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, we now have a better understanding of why—and what to do next. A new study published Friday in Nature Communications reveals how the novel coronavirus is especially sophisticated: It dons a disguise and parades as a trustworthy messenger to human cells, ultimately delivering counterfeit genetic information that allow it to take control.