What if our blood could predict a severe case of coronavirus? This is what scientists from the Université de Paris, the Institut Pasteur, the Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) and the Institut Imagine – among others – have shown in a study released this week in the world-famous American magazine, Science. What have the authors of this study discovered? That the deficiency of some proteins – usually produced in the blood through the immune system – “could be a hallmark of severe Covid-19”.
And especially one, interferon (IFN) type I, drawn their attention: “type-I IFN deficiency in the blood could be a hallmark of severe COVID-19”, the study reads, adding that “low IFN-α (Interferon type 1) plasma levels preceded clinical deterioration and transfer to ICU”. For the record, as explained in Ouest France, “interferons are proteins from the cytokine group especially produced by cells from the immune system as a response to an infection”. In 5% of cases, the aggravation of the disease is caused by a strong increasing of cytokines (the famous cytokine storms) leading to an extreme inflammatory response (in the lungs as for Covid-19) responsible for acute respiratory distress syndromes.
The study analyzed the files of 50 patients who have suffered of more or less severe cases of the disease, and outcomes show that in the more severe patients, “IFN activity was significantly lower in severe or critical patients”. Patients who also present “a persistent blood viral load and an exacerbated inflammatory response”.
A study that – if results are confirmed by more tests and clinical trials – could widely help identify cases who have more risks to develop severe COVID, as well as to take care of patients with a more fitting and targeted treatment. Good news then in the fight against the pandemic.