Australian researchers have created a tool which they hope will enable GPs to predict a patient’s likelihood of developing the disease.
Current estimates suggest that about one in five people diagnosed with COVID still have symptoms after one month, while about 5% have symptoms that persist beyond three months.
And with nearly one in two Australians believed to have contracted the virus so far this year, GPs are expected to be increasingly called upon to help treat or refer patients to clinics. long COVID.
However, in the absence of a current diagnostic framework or tools, researchers from Murdoch University in Perth say that people suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and long COVID present GPs with a “major challenge for the health”.
To help them cope with the expected growing burden, they have been working on a tool that can identify molecular biomarkers for COVID – without the need to detect the disease itself – and be easily deployed in communities. medical offices around the world, at low cost.
“We have been working on novel COVID and long COVID diagnostics for over two years now, using some of the most advanced analytical equipment in the world to measure metabolites and lipoproteins in blood plasma,” said Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director from the Australian National Phenomenon Center (ANPC) in Murdoch. ) Told newsGP.
‘One of our most powerful tools is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance [NMR] Spectroscopy… [and] recently [a] major NMR manufacturer presented a new range of very compact NMR spectrometers operating at low field requiring only a permanent magnet.
“We bought one of these machines and tried to adapt the experiments we do in the research lab to measure some key biomarkers we discovered for COVID-19, and by carefully changing the conditions, we found a Virtual full agreement between research and “small, field-deployable NMR machine for the same inflammatory signals in the same time frame.
The technology works by using a specially designed set of radio pulses to extract signals from inflammatory glycoprotein markers and lipoprotein-related fats, giving a rapid diagnosis in about a minute.
Results of the most recent study on the technology were recently published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, The analystand Professor Nicholson says they represent a translational triumph that will ultimately benefit COVID-19 patients in clinics around the world.
“We believe this technology will likely have many more clinical applications in the future and may be particularly useful in monitoring some of the residual effects of long COVID in individual patients,” he said.
“The next step is clinical deployment of the technology in a real-world setting to generate the kind of validation data needed to appropriately license this technology for diagnostic purposes.”
Meanwhile, ANPC’s Professor Julien Wist believes the technological advance will have many benefits, including cost reduction.
“It ticks all the boxes for successful translational technology: low costs, low maintenance, no specialist required, and no need for complex algorithms to understand the data,” he said.
If the research continues as planned, Professor Wist said newsGP the tool will be used alongside existing technology used to diagnose and treat COVID, such as PCR tests.
“Blood markers are not yet used to predict who will suffer from long COVID – that is what we are working on – but rather they provide an objective measure of the process by which the diseased metabolic signature returns to normal,” a- he declared.
“They do different things. PCR is a test for the presence of the virus, but does not provide any information on how it affects metabolism at different stages of infection progression.
“In contrast, blood markers do not provide a test for the presence of the virus but provide a direct window to observe its effects on the human body. Thus, they are complementary.
“PCR, for example, doesn’t tell you anything about the long covid, but metabolism does – what kind and how much.”
And although there is still a “long way to go” before the prototype is available to clinicians, Professor Wiest says it gives hope for the future.
‘The problem is that there is nothing there that can detect a problem [long COVID] this is and will affect millions of people,” he said.
“There is no instant translation for a new medical technology… [but] these markers were first discovered in 2020 using extremely expensive spectrometers, and less than two years later they are observed and quantified using a benchtop device in less than a minute.
“These benchtop diagnostic devices have the potential to efficiently deliver personalized healthcare in the future. For this, we need to be able to measure more biochemical markers.
“This document shows a possible way to achieve this goal.”
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