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Distinct Blood Signatures Found in COVID-19 Patients Could Significantly Improve Testing

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Jan 2021
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Researchers have discovered distinct blood signatures present in patients with COVID-19 that could significantly improve testing and long-term monitoring of the disease.

The research team at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) at Murdoch University (Perth, Australia) applied advanced analytical chemistry methods to study the plasma of patients suffering from COVID-19 infection and found diagnostic markers that were not present in respiratory patients that tested negative for the virus. Specifically, the research found that plasma lipoproteins – structures that transport fats around the body – in the blood of COVID-19 patients had changed dramatically during infection. They became closer to patterns typically found in patients with diabetes, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

The study involved the analysis of blood plasma samples collected from patients who presented COVID-19 disease symptoms and subsequently tested positive; healthy adults who had not exhibited COVID-19 disease symptoms; and patients with COVID-19 disease symptoms who tested negative. The samples were analyzed using state-of-the-art metabolic phenotyping technologies, which can reveal the molecular structures and quantitative bioanalysis for almost any type of biological liquid or solid. The analysis provided the unique biological ‘fingerprints’ of each sample, on which the research findings were based. The researchers believe that their work underlines the importance of long-term follow up studies on “recovered” COVID-19 patients, particularly those experiencing persistent effects, to assess their health status and take steps to mitigate any long-term effects of COVID-19 exposure.

“This work opens the door to a new type of test that does not depend on detection of the virus itself but that can help discriminate COVID-19 infections, especially when used in conjunction with conventional PCR testing,” explained Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the ANPC and leader of the research. “This would increase the overall security of existing testing procedures, such as those used in quarantine situations, which may be key to future easing of State and National lock-down protocols especially with the advent of the new UK B.1.1.7 corona virus variant which is significantly more infectious and affects children more easily.”

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