Research finds protein biomarkers that could predict the extent of illness in COVID-19 patients

Research finds protein biomarkers that could predict the extent of illness in COVID-19 patients

Research finds protein biomarkers that could predict the extent of illness in COVID-19 patients

Researchers belonging to the Francis Crick Institute and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have successfully identified 27 protein biomarkers that could help predict if a COVID-19 patient would become severely ill with the disease.

People contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, show different responses. Some people do not develop any symptoms at all while some need hospitalization, and then there are those for whom the disease is deadly.

The research that was published in Cell Systems shows 27 potential biomarkers that the researchers found in different levels in patients who have COVID-19 subject to the severity of their symptoms.

The biomarkers could help medical professionals predict the extent of the illness of a patient and identify new targets for drug development. 

The researchers improved upon an analysis method known as Mass Spectrometry to perform a test that could rapidly detect the presence and quantity of various proteins in the blood plasma. The platform, developed at the Francis Crick Institute, was applied to analyze serum from 31 COVID-19 patients at the Berlin University Hospital Charité.

The results were further verified in 17 patients infected with the virus at the same hospital, along with 15  non-infected people.

The researchers believe that these findings will help the development of simple routine assays that will examine the levels for one or more of these proteins in COVID-19 patients.

These tests will also be beneficial in helping doctors determine the method of treatment.

Three of the main proteins identified by the team found to be associated with interleukin IL-6, a protein that causes inflammation, which is also an indicator of severe symptoms.

The researchers say that it might be possible to reduce some of the symptoms with drugs that target these proteins. 

Markus Ralser, the author of the study and leader of the team at Crick and Charité, believes that their approach could easily be applied in case of other diseases currently as well as in the future to understand the effects on the human body.

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