Blood test could identify severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections, researchers say

12 December 2021

2 minutes to read

Disclosures:
Nagourney claims to be one of the founders and speaker of the Nagourney Cancer Institute. The study was funded with a research grant from the Nagourney Cancer Institute.


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A blood test at the time of diagnosis can predict the severity of a COVID-19-related illness and a patient’s risk of death, according to a small study published in PLoS One.

Robert A. Nagourney, MD, the medical and laboratory director of the Nagourney Cancer Institute in Irvine, Calif., and his colleagues conducted a cross-sectional observational study of 113 participants, comparing the plasma of 82 people with confirmed COVID-19 versus 31 controls.

Source: Adobe Stock.
Blood test could identify severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections, researchers say. Source: Adobe Stock.

According to the authors, the analysis found changes in the concentrations of glutamate, valeryl-carnitine and the ratios of kynurenine / tryptophan to citrulline / ornithine among participants with COVID-19, which “may serve as predictors of severity. of disease ”.

Nagourney said the idea for the study came from his previous work.

Robert A. Nagourney

“I became very interested in metabolism and cancer, and we’ve published a lot of articles on the metabolic characteristics of cancer,” Nagourney told Healio. “But when we started doing these studies over the years, I said, it seems to me it’s not just cancer, it’s metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis – these are all metabolically measurable. “

Nagourney said that about a year and a half ago, he got the idea to apply this theory to COVID-19.

Among the 113 trial participants, the mean age was 48.6 years, 51% were male, and 75% were overweight or obese and had a high rate of comorbidities.

Based on the WHO’s COVID-19 severity classification, 20 participants with COVID-19 were categorized as mild COVID-19, 32 had moderate illness, and the remaining 30 had severe cases.

“It’s amazing how quickly we did it,” Nagourney told Healio. “Because, from concept to publication, it was 1 year. I don’t think I’ve heard such a thing before. But it was brilliant, a shining example of a really well thought out scientific hypothesis test. “

According to Nagourney, this was only a pilot study. At first, the researchers were unsure whether their hypothesis would be proven or not, he said. Therefore, a home or commercial test based on the results would not be feasible in the near future.

“What we were able to do was narrow down the most discriminating metrics down to a handful of metabolites and ratios,” Nagourney said. “I don’t want to exaggerate this. It is possible that we can refine this down to a collection of specific metabolites that we could introduce on a different platform, but at the moment my mass spectrometer is quite delicate instrumentation. But is it possible that we can identify a collection of discriminants that could be converted into some sort of home test? I would say it is speculatively possible.


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