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Blood Protein Biomarkers Predict Outcome of a Patient’s COVID-19 Infection

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 08 Jun 2020
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Image: Transmission electron microscope image showing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of [U.S.] National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
Image: Transmission electron microscope image showing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of [U.S.] National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
A panel of blood biomarkers in patients with COVID-19 has demonstrated the potential to predict the severity of their symptoms and likely outcome of the infection.

By the beginning of June 2020 more than six million people worldwide had become ill with COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and more than 380,000 had perished. Thus, a method to predict the likely trajectory of the disease in the individual patient is an urgent requirement.

Toward this end, investigators at the Francis Crick Institute (London, UK) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Germany) developed a platform for ultra-high throughput serum and plasma proteomics (protein analysis). This method was designed to adhere to ISO13485 standardization for MS-high-flow liquid chromatography to facilitate implementation in clinical laboratories.

The platform was developed at the Francis Crick Institute and applied to analyze serum of 31 COVID-19 patients at the Berlin University Hospital Charité. Results were further validated in 17 patients with COVID-19 at the same hospital and in 15 healthy individuals.

Results of the analyses identified 27 potential biomarkers in the blood that were differentially expressed depending on the WHO severity grade of COVID-19. The biomarkers included complement factors, components of the coagulation system, inflammation modulators, and pro-inflammatory proteins upstream and downstream of interleukin. The low-cost workflow quantified 180 proteomes per day per mass spectrometer, enabled high precision quantification, and reduced batch effects for large-scale and longitudinal studies.

Senior author Dr. Markus Ralser, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and professor of biochemistry at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, said, "The robust method we have used in this study is a valuable and powerful tool to predict disease progression and also find potential targets for treatments. Our approach could also be easily applied to other diseases, now and in the future, to understand more about their effects on the body."

The COVID-19 blood biomarker study was published in the May 2020 online edition of the journal Cell Systems.

Related Links:
Francis Crick Institute
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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