A study by scientists from the Hull York School of Medicine and the Department of Mathematics at the University of York has found blood markers associated with people with severe covid, who had to be admitted to intensive care. This discovery would allow a simple blood test to know if the infected person is more likely to suffer severe covid and consequently provide the most appropriate treatment.
COVID-19 does not affect all people equally. Those who have the worst luck and end up in the hospital may have different needs and require different treatment, some may require some oxygen and others may be intubated in intensive care.
This new research has been published in the journal iScience and it has analyzed blood samples from more than 160 people admitted to the hospital for covid in the first and second waves of the pandemic.
The scientists checked the levels of cytokines and chemokines , which are the proteins in the blood that drive the massive immune response seen in patients with covid (known as the “cytokine storm”). They also looked at the levels of microRNA, which are like small RNAs, and indicate how affected tissues are. What researchers have seen is that there is a set of cytokines, chemokines and microRNAs that are linked to fatal cases of coronavirus.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, researchers observed high levels of inflammatory cytokines (molecules that adjust or alter the response of the immune system) in Covid-19 patients with poor outcomes,” said Nathalie Signoret, Hull York School of Medicine. from the University of York. However, this “cytokine storm” also occurred in people who, although hospitalized, had a milder version of coronavirus. So the scientists set out to dig deeper and try to find out which factors in the blood are linked to severe COVID.
“Our study identified markers in the blood that are specifically correlated with severe and fatal outcomes for hospitalized COVID-19 patients ,” said Dimitris Lagos, lead study author at York University.
“Importantly, our findings could provide the basis for new tests that are feasible in any hospital, as the samples we used were from routine blood tests already performed as part of standard care for COVID-19 patients.” Lagos stated. Knowing early which people could be at high risk would allow the treatment to be adapted to their severity and for it to be effective.