A new study has shown that doctors can identify, through blood samples, those at greatest risk of serious disease after the diagnosis of coronavirus, including those who may need a ventilator, according to research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine ( UVA) released on Monday.
The finding, according to the research, may lead to preventive treatments to stop deadly “cytokine storms” (severe immune system reactions) commonly observed in severe cases of COVID-19, and also serve as an explanation of why diabetics encounter more obstacles in coronavirus treatment.
As a result, UVA scientists have discovered that the levels of a particular cytokine in the blood after a patient is diagnosed with choroanvirus are predictive of the severity of the virus. These cytokines, proteins produced by immune cells, are responsible for serious immunological responses in the body.
The value of this discovery is rooted in its potential to establish a systematic process, or scoring systems, of “red flags”
“The immune response that we discovered to predict severe shortness of breath in COVID-19 is known in other lung diseases that cause damage. So this could lead to a new way to prevent respiratory failure in individuals infected with the new coronavirus by inhibiting this immune cytokine, “said Bill Petri, MD, PhD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Grape Health.
He added that “We plan to test it in a COVID-19 model before considering a clinical trial.”
Cytokine storms, whereby the immune system overreacts and causes damage to the body and vital organs, are associated with a particular group of cytokines. UVA scientists discovered that the best predictor of potential coronavirus outcomes was an “underrated” set of cytokines associated with the allergic response. Elevated levels of cichotin IL-13 were found to be associated with severe COVID-19 disease regardless of age, gender or other health problems of diagnosed patients.
The researchers came to their conclusions after testing the blood samples of 57 COVID-19 patients at UVA, who later requested a ventilator, comparing the results with those that did not require a ventilator following their COVID-19 diagnoses. .
The discovery may provide new insights into serious immunological reactions and can potentially be life-saving.
“This work was led by Allie Donlan, Mary Young and Mayuresh Abhyankar in my laboratory,” said Petri.
“But it was also a huge group effort by the School of Medicine with the support of iTHRIV and the Global Infectious Diseases Institute,” added Petri.