VASCage Proteomics and RNA biomarker research contributes with a new publication to fight the pandemic

A ‘Nature Communications‘ paper on prognostic COVID-19 biomarkers for intensive care patients has been published.
COVID-19 poses an unprecedented challenge to health care systems globally. It is increasingly apparent that conventional prognostic scores for patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) are unsuitable for outcome prediction. Now VASCage project leader Manuel Mayr of King’s College London, and his team were able to make important contributions to address this clinicial need.

Their study published in ‘Nature Communications‘. (Gutmann, C., Takov, K., Burnap, S.A. et al. SARS-CoV-2 RNAemia and proteomic trajectories inform prognostication in COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care. Nat Commun 12, 3406 (2021). ) demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 RNA circulating in blood (RNAemia) in COVID-19 ICU patients is associated with a higher risk of death. This observation could potentially lead to a disease-specific companion diagnostic for antiviral medications. Additionally, proteomics analyses of blood samples from ICU patients with COVID-19 uncovered protein trajectories that give further insights into COVID-19 pathobiology, in particular with regards to activation of the immune and complement system. Finally, they identified  novel interaction partners of the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, which is critical for the virus to enter the host cell. One of the binding partners, galectin-3-binding protein, is known to have anti-viral activity. The group now provides the first evidence that it might also have therapeutic potential for COVID-19. Link to journal highlights by editors

VASCage company partners Biognosys and Olink contributed to the success
Proteomics technologies of VASCage company partner Biognosys were successfully used for the analyses.  An external dataset from Olink, another VASCage company partner, was used for validation of the biomarker associations with patient outcome in an independent COVID-19 cohort.

Manuel Mayr scientifically leads the VASCage project ‘novel biomarkers‘. The aim is to establish new proteomics, lipidomics and microRNA biomarkers and diagnostic approaches for stroke and vascular ageing and to enter the development process required for a future clinical application.

‘The exceptional circumstances of a global pandemic calls for a concerted effort of the scientific community. So we at VASCage have flexibly reacted and adapted our research agenda to contribute with our expertise,‘ says VASCage CSO Stefan Kiechl.

Epidemiological study on COVID-19 impact on stroke care
VASCage has also started an epidemiological study on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects stroke incidence, management and outcome of patients. VASCage post-doc Annemieke ter Telgte together with the Department of Neurology at the Medical University Innsbruck analyses comprehensive hospital data sets to provide solid scientific evidence on how stroke care has been impacted in Tyrol and Austria by COVID-19 and its accompanying containment strategies by the government.