A novel defensive response to SARS-CoV-2 involving the viral pattern recognition receptor RIG-I has been discovered by scientists from Hokkaido University, Medical Xpress reports. Upregulating expression of this protein could strengthen the immune response in COPD patients. A team led by professor Akinori Takaoka has shown that RIG-I, a biological molecule that detects RNA viruses, restrains SARS-CoV-2 replication in human lung cells. Their findings, which could help predict COVID-19 patient outcomes, were published in the journal Nature Immunology. More than 162 million people have been affected by COVID-19. About 40-45% of these individuals are asymptomatic; as for the rest, around 35%-40% experienced a mild form of the disease, while the remaining roughly 19% were affected by symptoms that were severe enough to warrant hospitalization or were fatal. The most severe outcomes are usually associated with comorbidities and risk factors such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).