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New Metabolism-Based Blood Test Predicts COVID-19 Severity and Risk

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 03 Dec 2021
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A blood test conducted at the time of diagnosis can predict COVID-19 related illness severity and death, according to a new study.

The study conducted by researchers at the Nagourney Cancer Institute (Long Beach, CA, USA) compared 82 patients with RT-PCR confirmed COVID-19 with 31 healthy controls. Blood samples were obtained from each patient and studied for biochemical composition using quantitative mass spectrometry. This technique allowed researchers to measure minute quantities of metabolites in the blood. Investigators identified metabolic signatures that could distinguish mild COVID-19 infection from more severe and lethal forms of the disease.

The implications could be profound as it could enable the healthcare community to stratify patients based on individual risk, allowing doctors to allocate medical resources more effectivity and treat those at greatest risk earlier in the course of the disease before severe complications set in. The findings suggest that it is not the infecting organism, in this case the COVID-19 virus, but instead the individual's response to the infection that determines outcome. This could have important ramifications for the management of newer variants as they arise.

"It has long been recognized that persons with certain co-morbidities such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection," said Dr. Nagourney, lead researcher. "Our results now confirm the metabolic basis of COVID-19 severity. By using amino acid, lipid and other blood measures, we showed that subtle, previously undetectable levels of liver, mitochondrial and immune abnormalities underlie each persons' predisposition to life-threatening COVID-19 infection."

"When we compared the usual risk factors such as obesity against our new metabolic signatures, the biochemical measures proved highly discriminatory and may in the future enable us to find those otherwise healthy, younger patients who are destined to develop more severe disease, all in time to intervene," added Nagourney.

Related Links:
Nagourney Cancer Institute 

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