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Finger Prick Test Could Predict COVID-19 Complications from Drop of Blood

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 12 Sep 2022
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Image: New technology is being designed to detect severe COVID complications such as thrombosis (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: New technology is being designed to detect severe COVID complications such as thrombosis (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Many people died from COVID-19 because of the rapid development of complications caused by the so-called immune system-induced cytokine storm during which the body releases too many inflammatory proteins called cytokines into the blood too quickly. Symptoms include high fever, severe fatigue and sometimes organ failure. A cytokine storm can lead to abnormal blood clotting through the body’s blood vessels. For COVID-19 patients, it can lead to complications that contribute to respiratory difficulties and ultimately cause the patient’s death. But could some of those who died from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases have been saved by a diagnosis that predicts how severe their cases will be and provides timelier treatment?

An interdisciplinary team of engineers and doctors at Tulane University (New Orleans, LA, USA) hopes to answer that question with the development of new technology designed to detect severe COVID complications such as thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots block veins and arteries. The team has received a nearly USD 600,000 Trailblazer Award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to take on research that will lead to tests that can predict the severity of infectious diseases. The goal is to develop a diagnostic test that uses a drop of blood from a finger prick – a test that could be performed at a hospital, in a clinic or at home.

“Many patients who died from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases developed severe thrombotic complications shortly after disease symptoms were manifested,” said Damir Khismatullin, PhD, an associate professor of biomedical engineering in the Tulane School of Science and Engineering. “Their lives could be saved by predictive diagnosis of disease severity and timely treatment. However, tests that effectively predict the severity of infectious diseases are not available yet.”

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