Scientists in the US have developed a relatively simple and rapid (rapid) blood test, which in less than an hour can predict – within the first 24 hours of hospitalization – who is at greater risk of serious complications or death from severe Covid disease. -19.
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine, published in the medical journal JCI Insight, tested the test on nearly 100 patients who had just been admitted to hospital with a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.
The test measures the levels of mitochondrial DNA, which is normally found inside cells, but when it leaks into the bloodstream, it is a sign of violent death (necrosis) of cells in the body due to infection with the virus.
Detected levels of mitochondrial DNA in the blood reveal how far the damage has progressed to the tissues of the lungs, kidneys and other vital organs.
Mitochondrial DNA levels have been found to be much higher in patients who are eventually admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), intubated or die – regardless of age, gender and any underlying disease.
More specifically, on average, these levels were found to be about ten times higher in Covid-19 patients with severe lung dysfunction, who eventually died.
Patients with high levels of mitochondrial DNA in their blood were also almost six times more likely to be intubated, three times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and almost twice as likely to die as patients with the lowest levels of hospital admission.
Thus, this biomarker, measured by the new test, allows a prediction to be made about the course of the disease in a patient. It is also a tool for better clinical trial planning, as it identifies those patients who could potentially benefit most from a treatment under trial.
It could also help evaluate the effectiveness of a new treatment, as it reduces the levels of mitochondria in the blood.
“If we can assess within the first 24 hours of hospitalization whether a patient will need dialysis or intubation or medication to keep their blood pressure from dropping too low, this would change the way patients are screened and the more timely “management of the course of the disease,” said the researchers.
Larger studies will be needed to confirm the potential of the test before it can be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used clinically.