CHICAGO – Top scientists at a major academic center are uniting to answer key questions about the root causes of the long Covid – whether fragments of the coronavirus remain in some individual’s tissues.

The effort, known as the Long Covid Research Initiative, aims to streamline research and rapidly move potential treatments into clinical trials.

By sharing diverse skill sets and resources, this group hopes to uncover the scientific underpinnings of this disease and use it to design evidence-based trials.

Long Covid is a complex, poorly understood and disabling condition that can persist for months after an initial Covid-19 infection, leaving many of its patients unable to work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five American adults infected with Covid-19 has the disease.

The initiative is backed by an initial $15 million (SGD21 million) from Balvi, a science investment fund founded by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of blockchain platform Ethereum.

This includes scientists from Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California, San Francisco, Yale University, and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

“In a long Covid, the first thing we need to understand is whether patients still have the virus,” said the nonprofit PolyBio Research Foundation, an expert in infectious disease-related chronic diseases and chief scientific officer. Dr. Amy Proal said. of initiative.

Currently, there is no cure for the new coronavirus, which affects more than 150 million people worldwide.

She said there is growing evidence that the virus exists in tissues and continues to provoke a response from the immune system. This may help explain the cascade of some 200 long-term associated symptoms of Covid, including pain, fever, headache, cognitive impairment, shortness of breath, and fatigue after minimal activity.

Researchers use advanced imaging and gene sequencing techniques to look for evidence of viruses in tissues and analyze their effects on the immune system.

If viral persistence proves to be the cause of long-term Covid, the research initiative aims to test antiviral treatments such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid, as well as other classes of drugs that modulate the immune system. is.

“Antiviral drugs are the biggest target for our clinical trials,” Dr. Proal said, adding that the group would like to study Paxlovid.

Several case studies have shown that paxlovid improved symptoms in a handful of long-term Covid patients. Well-designed, large-scale trials are needed to identify which is high. – Reuters

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