Scientists from the University of Reading found inflammation and blood clotting seen in very severe cases of COVID-19 may be caused by the antibodies sent to fight the disease.
They can activate unnecessary platelet activity in the lungs.
The study is published in Blood and was conducted by Professor Jon Gibbins et al.
Platelets are small cells found in the blood that form clots to stop or prevent bleeding, but where platelets don’t function properly this can lead to serious health concerns such as strokes and heart attacks.
In the current study, the team took antibodies produced to fight the coronavirus’s spike protein, from people with severe COVID-19 infections, and cloned them in a lab.
They showed how antibodies produced by the body to protect against COVID-19 are triggering increased function of platelets, which may be causing fatal blood clots in patients with severe disease.
The team found that the small sugars on the surface of these antibodies were different from antibodies from healthy people.
When those cloned antibodies were introduced in a lab to blood cells taken from healthy donors, there was an observed increase in platelet activity.
The researchers also found that it was possible to reduce or stop platelets from responding in this way in the laboratory by treating blood with active ingredients from different medications which is known to either inhibit platelet function or immune responses.
The findings suggest that it may be possible for drugs that are currently used to treat immune system problems to reduce or stop the cells from producing an exaggerated platelet response.
The team is already testing these drugs in clinical trials with patients at hospital sites across the UK to see whether they will reduce serious clotting for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
They hope they can both inhibit the inflammatory response and prevent severe disease and blood clots.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about why COVID-19 can trigger severe disease and death, and this heartburn drug may help treat COVID-19.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about inexpensive heart drug that can help treat severe COVID, and results showing a new way to prevent many COVID-19 variants.
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