Blood Plasma Proteins Could Aid Long Covid

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A potential new drug therapy found from blood proteins could improve outcomes for individuals diagnosed with long COVID.

Findings from a team at Lawson Health Research Institute have recently discovered unique patterns of blood plasma proteins in patients with long COVID. Published in The Journal of Translational Medicine, this new breakthrough could uncover drug targets that could potentially improve patient outcomes.

Long COVID is defined as symptoms that surface for weeks, months, or even years after recovering from COVID-19. According to the news release, 10% to 20% of individuals infected with COVID-19 will be diagnosed with long COVID.

Long COVID concept | Image credit: Parradee - stock.adobe.com

Long COVID concept | Image credit: Parradee - stock.adobe.com

Douglas Fraser, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Lawson scientist and critical care physician at London Health Sciences Center (LHSC), said that the symptoms individuals can experience are vast. The symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, and difficulty breathing.

“Their quality of life can be significantly altered, so anything that we can do to learn about this disorder and identify potential treatment targets is very important,” Fraser said in the press release.

The researchers said the proteins they found are called the “plasma proteome.” The role of the plasma proteome involves releasing cells that are used in the body’s immune response to viruses.

To conduct this study, blood plasma samples were collected from outpatients diagnosed with Long COVID from the Post-Acute COVID-19 Program at St. Joseph’s. These samples were then compared to acutely ill COVID-19 inpatients at LHSC. Both samples were compared to a group of individuals who were healthy.

“We used novel technologies for this study, allowing us to analyze more than 3000 proteins in each patients’ blood plasma sample. We used a novel bioinformatic pipeline, which uses artificial intelligence technology, to then analyze the proteins to determine the specific changes that occur in long COVID,” said Cristiana Losef, PhD, research analyst at Children’s Health Research Institute at Lawson.

According to the study, the technology used was advanced, allowing the researchers to find the unique signaling patterns from the blood proteins. The team was then able to discover that the individuals with long COVID had extended inflammation that connected with changes in their immune cells and blood vessels. These changes can possibly lead to further issues in the brain and the heart.

“When we identify these signaling patterns within the blood plasma, we can then take the information and screen drug databases to better understand which drugs would be best to target the changes we identified in long COVID patients. With this understanding, the identified drugs may be used in future long COVID clinical trials,” Fraser said.

The findings suggest a potential new drug therapy in the future that could improve outcomes from individuals diagnosed with long COVID.

Reference:

New study suggests blood plasma proteins hold answers to better understanding long COVID. News release. EurekAlert!. July 7,2023. Accessed July 19, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/994902.

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