Irish scientists have identified how and why some Covid-19 patients can develop life-threatening blood clots. The work ,led by researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), could lead to targeted therapies that prevent such clots happening in future. The findings are published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. The scientists analyzed samples from Covid-19 patients in intensive care in the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. They found the balance between a molecule that causes clotting called the von Willebrand Factor (VWF) and its regulator, ADANTS 13, is severely disrupted in Covid patients who had elevated levels of the VWF protein.
The ADAMTS13 gene provides instructions for making an enzyme that is involved in regulating blood clotting, while VWF is a large multimeric glycoprotein in plasma. Deficiency or dysfunction of VWF can lead to either bleeding or thrombosis. The findings could lead to targeted therapies that prevent such clots happening in future, the BBC reported. The study is published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. “Our research helps provide insights into the mechanisms that cause severe blood clots in patients with Covid-19, which is critical in developing more effective treatments,” said Dr Jamie O’Sullivan, a research lecturer at the RCSI.She said more research needed to be done to determine whether targets aimed at correcting the levels of ADAMTS 13 and VWF can lead to successful interventions.
“It is important that we continue to develop therapies for patients with Covid-19,” O’Sullivan said. “Vaccines will continue to be unavailable to many people throughout the world and it is important that we provide effective treatments to them and to those with breakthrough infections,” she added. For the study, the team analyzed samples from Covid-19 patients in intensive care in the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
Outside of novel coronavirus infection, these clot-causing antibodies are typically seen in patients who have the autoimmune disease antiphospholipid syndrome. The connection between autoantibodies and COVID-19 was unexpected, says co-corresponding author YogenKanthi, M.D., an assistant professor at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center and a Lasker Investigator at the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “In patients with COVID-19, we continue to see a relentless, self-amplifying cycle of inflammation and clotting in the body,” Kanthi says. “Now we’re learning that autoantibodies could be a culprit in this loop of clotting and inflammation that makes people who were already struggling even sicker.”