PI: Alice Assinger
Funded by: FWF
Funding period: 01.07.2021-31.12.2022
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection leads to a clinical picture of variable features and degrees of severity, ranging from mild influenza-like symptoms to life-threatening respiratory distress and multiple organ failure. Increasing evidence emerges which characterizes COVID-19 as an immuno-thrombotic disease.
While the precise pathomechanism for coagulopathies in COVID-19 patients is still unknown, various routine haematological parameters including increased D-dimer levels and decreased platelet counts have been discussed as predictive parameters.
Analysis of our retrospective cohort of COVID-19 patients indicates that routine parameters fail to predict patient outcome. We therefore started prospectively collecting plasma from patients with COVID-19 admitted to the designated COVID-19 hospital in Vienna, Austria. In this project, we plan to evaluate the biomarker potential of circulating microRNAs signature, as an alternative biomarker to predict disease outcome (survival versus non-survival) in COVID-19 patients. We will evaluate previously published cytokines for their predictive potential and also sequence circulating microRNAs in plasma from COVID-19 patients. We hope to characterize a specific microRNA signature that predicts patient outcome, which could be used as an easy accessible biomarker to define patients at risk. Moreover, we hope to gain insight in the underlying pathology of SARS-CoV-2 infections by this approach.
In order to optimize patient care and resource allocation during this pandemic, biomarkers are urgently needed for stratifying patients’ risk for adverse outcome. We have already collected samples from COVID-19 patients and have the expertise to conduct this study in collaboration with our biostatistic partners.
The fact that there is currently neither therapy nor reliable biomarkers to predict patient outcome in COVID-19 represents a major clinical problem. Thus, this project is highly relevant to improve the quality of life and survival of these patients.