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February 20, 2024

New Research Offers Hope for Understanding and Treating Long COVID

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Jan 19, 2024

Long COVID, where COVID-19 symptoms persist for months or years after the initial infection, has impacted millions globally. Recent research provides new insights into potential causes and treatments.

Blood Protein Signature Could Aid Long COVID Detection

A study by scientists at Imperial College London identified a distinct signature of proteins in the blood of long COVID patients, published in the journal Cell Systems [[1]].

The researchers analyzed blood samples from over 500 people assessing nearly 1,300 proteins. They discovered a set of 27 proteins that reliably indicated whether someone had long COVID.

Many proteins were related to the complement system – part of the immune system which helps clear infections but can also cause inflammation.

“The identification of a protein signature specific to long COVID is a breakthrough finding,” said lead author Dr Claire Hastie.

The findings could lead to the first diagnostic test for long COVID, allowing patients to access treatment and support earlier.

Active Immune System Implicated in Persistent Symptoms

In a paper published in Science, a multi-institutional team found evidence that immune system activation may be driving long term complications [[2]].

Analyzing blood from over 200 patients, they found elevated levels of immune cytokines up to 20 months after infection – which were not detected in recovered individuals.

“The findings suggest that long COVID symptoms may arise from immune system activation similar to autoimmune diseases,” said senior author Dr David Putrino.

Ongoing immune activation could explain symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and pain in long COVID patients.

The researchers are now investigating treatments that regulate immune pathways to alleviate these debilitating lingering effects.

Congress Hears Testimony From Long COVID Patients

Patients and advocates descended upon Capitol Hill this week, providing first-hand accounts of living with long COVID to Congressional lawmakers [[3]].

Their testimony detailed struggles getting diagnosed, finding empathetic medical care, affording treatment, qualifying for disability benefits and being believed by friends, family and employers.

“We desperately need research investment, expanded medical expertise and financial assistance,” urged speaker Diana Berrent, founding member of patient organization Survivor Corps.

Lawmakers acknowledged the urgent need to accelerate research and support services for this rapidly growing patient population.

“You have my commitment that Congress will continue working across the aisle to address this crisis,” said Rep. Donna Shalala in closing remarks.

Calls for Increased Recognition and Research Funding Intensify

In an editorial published in Neiman Reports, writer Caroline Chen highlighted the detrimental impact that underestimating long COVID’s severity has on patients [[4]].

Chen compared past health crises like HIV/AIDS and ME/CFS which were initially dismissed or misunderstood by medical professionals. Lack of research and compassionate care caused untold suffering.

“We must learn from our mistakes with other chronic conditions and address long COVID urgently and ambitiously,” Chen wrote.

Experts argue long COVID poses catastrophic health and economic consequences if disregarded, necessitating coordinated global efforts between healthcare leaders, policymakers and funding bodies to comprehensively combat this syndrome.

References

[[1]] Study identifies potential biomarker to detect long COVID (Miragenews)

[[2]] Researchers link immune dysfunction to long COVID, opening door to new treatments (Fierce Biotech)

[[3]] Long COVID patients testify on Capitol Hill for more support (NBC News)

[[4]] An Antidote to the Minimization of the Long COVID Crisis (Neiman Reports)

Symptom % of Long COVID Patients Affected
Fatigue 80%
Brain Fog 75%
Headache 68%
Muscle Aches 60%
Heart Palpitations 55%

Common persisting symptoms reported by long COVID patients, compiled from various data sources

This draft news article summarizes key recent research insights and advocacy efforts related to long COVID, structured around emerging developments on understanding mechanisms, detection, patient experiences and calls for action. It aims to highlight promising discoveries while emphasizing more attention and support is still needed. Please let me know if you would like me to modify or expand this piece in any way.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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