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Groundbreaking molecular studies in London, ON identify ways to predict the severity of illness

Two new studies out of the Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University have identified biomarkers that can predict the severity of patient illness, as well as how blood clots develop in some patients with COVID-19.
By: Heather Marie Connors
August 28, 2020
Photo provided by the Lawson Health Research Institute.

A team of researchers from the Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University in London, ON have identified six molecules that can be used as biomarkers to predict how ill a patient is likely to become. When measured on a patient’s first day in the ICU, these molecules can help doctors determine how patients will tolerate standard ICU treatment. The findings are new, and need to be validated through further tests, but if doctors are able to predict which patients are at higher risk, they may be able to move forward with riskier interventions sooner.

One of two studies recently published in Critical Care Explorations, the second study by this team looks at blood clots, a major complication in most critically ill COVID patients. Here they have identified elevated levels of three molecules believed to be the cause of the clots. Two are small hair-like structures that line the blood vessels, the third helps platelets and the inner lining of blood vessels to stick to each other.

“We suspect the body’s immune response is producing enzymes that shear off these little hair-like structures, inflaming blood vessels and making them a welcoming environment for platelets to form clots,” lead researcher Dr. Douglas Fraser told Global News.

Both studies are world-firsts that have the potential to shape clinical trials and patient therapies.

“I feel very, very positive of what we’re doing here, no doubt, but let’s be cautious. Let’s make sure we’re repeating it elsewhere, let’s make sure we’re making the proper decisions for our patients.”

Source: Global News

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