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Blood Biomarker Test Rapidly Identifies COVID-19 Patients Likely to Develop Severe Infection and Require Ventilator

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Feb 2021
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A new blood biomarker test rapidly detects the severity of COVID-19 infections when a person with flu-like symptoms first presents to a clinic and allows clinicians to know at onset of symptoms if the patient will need ventilation.

The blood biomarker test developed by scientists at Queensland University of Technology (QUT; Brisbane, Australia) could inform doctors those patients that were likely to develop a severe infection and require a ventilator when they first present and thus differentiate them from patients likely to experience a milder case and who could go home and self-isolate.

“Using high-resolution imaging and genomic profiling, we were able to map the presence of the virus in the lungs down to the single cells present in the lung tissue,” said Dr. Arutha Kulasinghe, from QUT Centre for Genomics and Personalized Health and School of Biomedical Sciences. “We discovered a handful of pro-inflammatory genes which were upregulated (higher expression) in COVID-19 cases when compared with the closest pandemic virus, swine flu or H1N1, and the lungs of healthy people.”

“The pro-inflammatory genes, including one called ifi27, are involved in type 1 interferon response - an inflammatory response to defend the body from viruses and other pathogens,” explained Dr. Kulasinghe. “The value of measuring this biomarker, ifi27, in a nasal swab or blood sample is in triaging patients because it can tell us how severe the COVID-19 disease is as soon as the patient seeks medical help with COVID symptoms.”

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