Title: New Study Reveals Potential Biological Markers for Long COVID
Date: September 26, 2023, 8:45 PM ET
A recent study published in Nature has utilized blood tests to uncover valuable insights into the biological markers associated with long COVID, providing a significant contribution to the ongoing efforts to understand this debilitating condition.
Long COVID, characterized by persistent symptoms lasting more than six weeks after infection, has affected millions of Americans. However, there is currently no specific test to diagnose this condition. The study involved 273 adult participants from Mount Sinai and Yale University. Using machine learning techniques, researchers analyzed immune markers and hormone levels in individuals with and without long COVID symptoms, one year after recovering from COVID-19.
The findings of the study revealed that long COVID was associated with lower levels of cortisol, a hormone responsible for regulating stress response. Additionally, certain immune cells and inflammatory markers in the blood showed distinct differences in individuals experiencing long COVID.
Dr. Alison Morris, Division Chief of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, noted that these results could provide valuable insights into potential mechanisms leading to long COVID and guide treatment strategies. Dr. Morris stated, “[These results] suggests some potential mechanisms leading to long COVID that might be amenable to treatment. It also may help in identifying patients with long COVID.”
Dr. Shari Barnett Brosnahan, COVID-19 researcher and Assistant Professor of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at New York University Langone Health System, hailed the study as a “remarkable” achievement. However, she also emphasized the need for further research while commending the study’s validation of long COVID symptoms through biological differences.
Although the study had a relatively small sample size, researchers stress the importance of conducting additional studies to comprehensively understand the significance of these findings. By identifying specific biological markers for long COVID, doctors may improve diagnostic accuracy and tailor treatments accordingly.
This research aligns with the broader movement to gain a deeper understanding of long COVID conditions and provide support to those affected. The Biden administration recently announced the establishment of the Office of Long COVID Research, showing the government’s commitment to addressing the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Long COVID encompasses a range of persistent symptoms that can impact various organ systems in the body. These symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, sleep problems, difficulty breathing, dizziness upon standing, and gastrointestinal issues. Recognizing the severity and lasting impact of long COVID, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has classified it as a potential disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Dr. Jade A. Cobern, licensed physician and member of the ABC News Medical Unit, commented on the importance of objective evidence in validating the experiences of individuals with long COVID. Dr. Cobern emphasized that further studies are essential to enhance our understanding and acknowledgment of this complex condition within the medical community.
In conclusion, the recent study’s findings offer promising insights into the potential biological markers associated with long COVID. While the research serves as a significant step forward, additional studies are necessary to confirm and expand upon these results. Ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of long COVID will improve diagnosis, support individuals suffering from the condition, and guide the development of targeted treatments.