HomeHealthTop scientists join forces to study leading theory behind COVID-19 long

Top scientists join forces to study leading theory behind COVID-19 long

A patient suffering from Lung COVID is examined at the post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clinic of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, Feb. 21, 2022. Photo taken Feb. 21, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

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CHICAGO, Sept. 8 (Reuters) – Top scientists from leading academic centers are teaming up to answer an important question about the root cause of long-term COVID – whether fragments of the coronavirus persist in the tissues of some individuals.

The effort, known as the Long Covid Research Initiative, aims to streamline research and move quickly to clinical trials of potential treatments. By sharing different skills and resources, the group hopes to uncover the scientific underpinnings of the disease and use that to design evidence-based trials.

Long COVID is a complex, poorly understood, debilitating condition that can persist for many months after an initial COVID infection, leaving many of its patients unable to work. It affects nearly one in five U.S. adults who have had COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The initiative is backed by an initial $15 million from Balvi, a scientific investment fund formed by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the blockchain platform Ethereum.

It includes scientists from Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California, San Francisco, Yale University and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

“The first thing to understand with long-term COVID is whether patients still have the virus in them or not,” said Dr. Amy Proal of the nonprofit PolyBio Research Foundation, an expert on infection-associated chronic diseases will serve as scientific head. official of the initiative.

Currently, there are no proven treatments for long-term COVID, which affects more than 150 million people worldwide.

A growing body of evidence points to the presence of viruses in tissues that continue to trigger an immune system response, she said.

That could help explain the cascade of some 200 symptoms associated with long-term COVID, including pain, fever, headache, cognitive impairment, shortness of breath and exhaustion after minimal amounts of activity.

Researchers will use advanced imaging and gene sequencing techniques to look for evidence of the virus in tissues and analyze its effects on the immune system.

If viral persistence is proven to cause long-term COVID, the research initiative aims to test antiviral treatments such as Pfizer Inc’s Paxlovid (PFE.N) and other types of drugs that modulate the immune system.

“Antivirals are our main target for clinical trials,” Proal said, adding that the group would like to study Paxlovid. She couldn’t say if Pfizer is working with the group.

Some case studies have shown that Paxlovid improved symptoms in a handful of long-term COVID patients. But large, well-designed studies are needed to prove that the treatments help and identify which patients benefit the most. read more

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company is “actively investigating” possible collaboration studies, but declined to comment further.

The initiative was organized by a group of longtime COVID patients with backgrounds in finance, startups and technology, who are leading the fundraising efforts, such as the initial $15 million grant, as well as others yet to be disclosed, it said. Henry Scott-Green, one of the organizers.

The goal is to accelerate research by breaking institutional silos and breaking funding bottlenecks.

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Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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