In this podcast, Pat Franack interviews health expert Dr. Florence Comite about the role of precision medicine in the current global coronavirus pandemic.
Pat Franack's In-Depth Coronavirus Interview With Dr. Florence Comite
Dr. Florence Comite is an endocrinologist and founder of the Comite Center for Precision Medicine & Health in New York City and the personalized health app. I also wrote the bestseller, Keep It Up! Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
In this article:
- How Do Coronaviruses Work?
- Why Is This Specific Coronavirus so Good at Spreading and Infecting Humans?
- What Are Your Thoughts on the Bioterrorism Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Coronavirus?
- Why Is the Coronavirus Worse for Some People Over Others?
- How Are These Comorbidities Linked to Aging?
- How Does This Redefine Aging?
- How Does This Perspective Help Prepare Us for Viruses Like the Coronavirus?
- How Does This Change the Way We Look at Diseases?
How Do Coronaviruses Work?
The coronavirus looks like a ball with spikes on it. This spikey ball latches onto proteins found on the surface of our cells.
Then, it starts to spread with the activation of enzymes. It’s kind of like a lock-and-key phenomenon: the virus latches onto proteins. It effectively tricks the body into “turning the key” and revving up a response.
Why Is This Specific Coronavirus so Good at Spreading and Infecting Humans?
We don’t have all of the answers, but there are some substantial clues. You can look at the genomic data of each of the viruses spikes to understand the adaptations.
This virus is unique in its ability to latch on to a specific site called ACE2, a protein-coding gene in humans. If you want to learn more, the NIH published an article that provides interesting genomic clues into the natural origin of the disease and its infection rate in humans.
What Are Your Thoughts on the Bioterrorism Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Coronavirus?
When researchers looked at existing computer models to predict how strong each coronavirus could “latch on” to human cells, the virus causing COVID-19 didn’t look very good. SARS was predicted to be much stronger.
Now we know that this new virus is much better at latching onto ACE2. On top of that, it finds new sites to latch on to that weren’t predicted by computers. Any bioengineer trying to design a coronavirus would never have chosen this particular spike protein, especially if they relied on computer models.
This shows us that we need more context to integrate and interpret disease and health. We can’t just look at a single gene, hormone, or lifestyle trait to understand the cause and expression of any disease, including COVID-19.
Why Is the Coronavirus Worse for Some People Over Others?
Over the last few months, we’ve heard that age is a factor. People over the age of 70 are more prone to severe coronavirus symptoms, which can even lead to death.
Conventional medicine says that this makes sense because older people, in general, are at higher risk of illness. And that’s true.
However, there’s more going on here than just chronological age. A lot of the serious problems are occurring in patients who have comorbidities like diabetes, obesity, and cancers.
How Are These Comorbidities Linked to Aging?
As you age, you may start to feel like you don’t have as much energy as you used to. Most people think that this is a natural part of life.
They blame it on other factors like work stress, hectic schedules, and child-rearing. But if you dig below the surface, you’ll probably discover that your body isn’t functioning as well.
You’re actually beginning to decline at a cellular level. Cellular functioning isn’t as efficient as it used to be.
Multiple variables such as hormonal levels, lifestyle choices, personal history, family history, and genetics all play a role in this decline.
RELATED: Precision Health Analysis & Program
How Does This Redefine Aging?
I look at it as “disorders of aging.” I use the word disorder instead of disease because I believe that there are aspects of aging that are manageable or even reversible if we take a look beneath the surface.
We can physiologically turn the clock back. Instead of seeing it as “anti-aging,” I think of it as keeping your health.
How Does This Perspective Help Prepare Us for Viruses Like the Coronavirus?
With precision medicine, we can look at the factors that influence biological age. This gives us clues on how we can protect ourselves from viruses, including the coronavirus.
If you detect and manage the changes that cause aging at an individual level, then you’re more likely to keep your health despite the aging process. If you can keep your health in your 80s (or even beyond), you may have more strength to resist viruses like the coronavirus.
To optimize the body at a cellular level, you need to look at lifestyle factors, hormones, family history, peptides, and genetics. For example, sub-optimal body composition is one of the most common threads among disorders of aging.
Disease is usually more prevalent in populations that lack lean muscle mass and have an excess of visceral fat. So if you optimize the body by making sure you maintain muscle, you can mount an efficient immune response when it’s necessary. This perspective allows you to fight the disease before the symptoms even occur.
How Does This Change the Way We Look at Diseases?
Remember, one of the reasons COVID-19 has been able to spread so widely is the incubation period. So it’s essential to look into diseases even if we don’t see their symptoms.
For example, if someone doesn’t know that their sugar is a little high in the morning, they’re more vulnerable to disease. In the conventional way of looking at diseases, you usually won’t know it’s there until there are symptoms.
You don’t usually look for diseases until it happens or until you’re in trouble. That’s why it’s important to peel away the surface.
With precision medicine, you can predict an individual’s health trajectory and recommend what they need to do to maintain their healthspan for the rest of their lives. It’s possible to preserve and conserve your health until you’re 100 years old (and even older).
Precision medicine doesn’t wait for symptoms to be overt before intervening. It looks beneath the surface and targets potentially problematic aspects of your health.
We may not be able to predict the next novel virus, but practicing precision medicine and health can optimize individual health. That way, you’ll be in fight form to weather any storm—even a cytokine storm!
Doctors and scientists are still learning new things about COVID-19 every day. Amid this uncertainty, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy immune system. If you’re interested in boosting your immune response with precision medicine interventions, contact the Comite Center for Precision Medicine & Health today.