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Proteomics of Severity

A blood test may be able to predict which COVID-19 patients will become critically ill, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

A Yale University-led team conducted a proteomic analysis of plasma from patients with COVID-19. In an initial cohort of 49 adult COVID-19 patients — 40 of whom were in the intensive care unit and nine who were in other units — and 13 non-hospitalized controls, the researchers identified plasma biomarkers that could distinguish the critically ill and non-critically ill patients. In particular, as they report in Blood Advances, they found that five proteins related to neutrophil activation — resistin, lipocalin-2, HGF, IL-8, and G-CSF — could distinguish the groups.

In a separate longitudinal cohort of patients, the researchers found that these neutrophil-associated proteins were elevated among COVID-19 patients before they went on to develop more serious disease and were lower among patients who did not. 

"If a diagnostic test [for these biomarkers] could be ordered early, it could give us a better sense of who is more likely to become critically ill and will benefit from a higher level of care and consideration for therapies that affect the immune system early on in their hospitalization," senior author Hyung Chun from Yale says in a statement.