There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, which is causing a global pandemic. One current focus is drug repurposing research, but those drugs have limited therapeutic efficacies and known adverse effects. The pathology of COVID-19 is essentially unknown. Without this understanding, it is challenging to discover a successful treatment to be approved for clinical use. This paper addresses several key biological processes of reactive oxygen, halogen and nitrogen species (ROS, RHS and RNS) that play crucial physiological roles in organisms from plants to humans. These include why superoxide dismutases, the enzymes to catalyze the formation of H2
, are required for protecting ROS-induced injury in cell metabolism, why the amount of ROS/RNS produced by ionizing radiation at clinically relevant doses is ~1000 fold lower than the endogenous ROS/RNS level routinely produced in the cell and why a low level of endogenous RHS plays a crucial role in phagocytosis for immune defense. Herein we propose a plausible amplification mechanism in immune defense: ozone-depleting-like halogen cyclic reactions enhancing RHS effects are responsible for all the mentioned physiological functions, which are activated by H2
and deactivated by NO signaling molecule. Our results show that the reaction cycles can be repeated thousands of times and amplify the RHS pathogen-killing (defense) effects by 100,000 fold in phagocytosis, resembling the cyclic ozone-depleting reactions in the stratosphere. It is unraveled that H2
is a required protective signaling molecule (angel) in the defense system for human health and its dysfunction can cause many diseases or conditions such as autoimmune disorders, aging and cancer. We also identify a class of potent drugs for effective treatment of invading pathogens such as HIV and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), cancer and other diseases, and provide a molecular mechanism of action of the drugs or candidates.
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