Dr David Gaze, Lecturer in Clinical Biochemistry, wrote an article for The Conversation about how ACE2 molecules invade your cells and may be behind the vastly different death rates between genders.
Discussing what the ACE2 molecule is, Dr Gaze wrote: “ACE2 is an enzyme molecule that connects the inside of our cells to the outside via the cell membrane. In normal physiology, another enzyme called AE alters a chemical, angiotensin I, and converts it into angiotensin II, which causes blood vessels to constrict.
“The tightening of the blood vessels leads to an increase in blood pressure. That’s when the ACE2 molecule comes in: to counteract the effects of ACE, causing blood vessels to dilate and lowering blood pressure.”
Dr Gaze also explained the link between ACE2 and COVID-19, and wrote: “When it comes to the current coronavirus, early studies have shown that the introduction of a human-made form of ACE2 to human cells can block the early stages of infection by binding the spike protein, preventing it from entering the cells. ACE2 thus acts both as an entry port to cells but also works as a mechanism to protect the lungs from injury.”
He added: “The role that ACE2 plays in COVID-19 is important in our understanding of the disease and could be used as a target for therapy. Drugs could be designed to block the receptor function of ACE2, but also there is promise in using the molecule itself in preventing the entry of the virus into cells.”