A recent study reveals that blood plasma proteins may provide a better understanding of long Covid and potentially serve as a target for improved patient outcomes. Canadian researchers from the Lawson Health Research Institute and London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have identified distinctive patterns of blood plasma proteins in individuals with suspected long Covid. Long Covid affects approximately 10-20% of individuals who have had Covid-19, causing a range of symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and breathing difficulties.
The study focused on the plasma proteome, the proteins released by cells involved in the body’s immune response to viruses. By analyzing blood plasma samples from long Covid outpatients and comparing them to acutely ill Covid-19 patients and a group of healthy volunteers, the researchers utilized novel technologies and artificial intelligence to examine over 3,000 proteins simultaneously. Through these advanced techniques, the team identified unique patterns in the blood proteins of individuals with suspected long Covid.
The findings indicate that prolonged inflammation, immune cell changes, and alterations in blood vessels may contribute to organ-specific issues, including those affecting the brain and heart. The study’s saved blood plasma samples will help determine how proteins change over time in individuals who initially had a Covid-19 infection and now exhibit presumed long Covid symptoms.
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Dr. Douglas Fraser, a scientist and critical care physician at LHSC, noted that the discovered proteins could be potential targets for drug therapies. The research team is currently investigating new drug treatments to improve outcomes for long Covid patients. By identifying signaling patterns within blood plasma, they aim to screen drug databases to identify suitable medications for targeting the specific changes observed in long Covid patients. This understanding may facilitate future clinical trials focused on long Covid, utilizing the identified drugs.