Researcher Andreas Greinacher of the University of Greifswald in Germany believes viral vector vaccines, which use modified adenoviruses, to convey genetic material into vaccine recipients to fight COVID-19, could cause an autoimmune response that leads to blood clots, reported The Wall Street Journal.
According to Greinacher, that reaction could be tied to stray proteins and a preservative he has found in the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He and his team have just begun examining Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, but has identified more than 1000 proteins in AstraZeneca's vaccine derived from human cells, as well as a preservative known as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).
Their hypothesis is that EDTA, which is common to drugs and other products, helps those proteins stray into the bloodstream, where they bind to a blood component called platelet factor 4 (PF4), forming complexes that activate the production of antibodies.
The inflammation caused by the vaccines, combined with the PF4 complexes, could trick the immune system into believing the body had been infected by bacteria, triggering a defense mechanism that then runs out of control and causes clotting and bleeding.
Greinacher is working to confirm his theory, hoping to get cooperation from vaccine makers. His team has tested AstraZeneca vaccines and has just received doses from Johnson & Johnson. Greifswald University is now negotiating with the drugmakers about greater access to their vaccine-making processes.
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