By using a technique called high-throughput proteomics, Cruchaga Lab researchers have identified specific proteins that may help predict which patients may need to be placed on ventilators to breathe and which are most likely to die of the COVID-19 virus.
Researchers learned that the presence of certain proteins may either cause severe illness or become dysregulated as the result of severe illness. In addition, they learned that presence of any of 32 proteins that became dysregulated during the COVID-19 infection indicated that patients would require breathing assistance from a ventilator about a week after admission to the hospital. In addition, when the virus caused alteration of 5 other proteins in the blood plasma, death could result.
It is not clear whether the same proteins would respond similarly to later variants of the virus. However, the same approach of using high-throughput proteomics likely could validate or identify suspect proteins in other variants or even with completely different viruses.
In addition, some of the proteins dysregulated during COVID-19 were linked to coronary artery disease and Alzheimer’s disease pathways, confirming that COVID-19 can increase the risk for these disorders. While COVID-19 is recognized as a disease affecting the lungs, these high-throughput approaches have helped researchers to realize that it also affects the brain and heart.
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