Protein levels within the body of infected COVID-19 patients could predict their chances of having long-covid according to a recent study.
New research by University College London analyzed the bloodwork of infected healthcare works against their colleagues who weren’t infected and found that protein levels in people who were infected, were dramatically higher to those not and this was evident for up to six weeks after infection.
12 out of 91 proteins studied were abnormal said researchers who took samples from 51 workers who were infected and 102 who weren’t.
“The research team found that at the time of first infection, abnormal levels of 20 proteins studied were predictive of persistent symptoms after one year. Most of these proteins were linked to anti-coagulant (anti-clotting) and anti-inflammatory processes,” said UCL.
Researchers utilized an AI algorithm to pinpoint the specific “signature” of a protein that would likely predict this according to lead author Dr Gaby Captur.
“Our study shows that even mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 disrupts the profile of proteins in our blood plasma. This means that even mild Covid-19 affects normal biological processes in a dramatic way, up to at least six weeks after infection.
“Our tool predicting long Covid still needs to be validated in an independent, larger group of patients. However, using our approach, a test that predicts long Covid at the time of initial infection could be rolled out quickly and in a cost-effective way.
She also mentioned that the method of analysis they used is known as targeted mass spectrometry, which is something that is already available in hospitals and the healthcare system.
Using the machine learning algorithm it was able to successfully distinguish the 11 health care workers that reported some kind of persistent symptoms a year later.