New Delhi: Researchers have identified specific proteins in the blood plasma of people infected with COVID-19 that may help predict which patients may need to be placed on ventilators to breathe and which are most likely to die of the virus.

The researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in the US studied blood plasma samples from 332 COVID-19 patients.

“Identifying harmful proteins may be helpful as we confront not only variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, but also as new viruses emerge in the future,” said study principal investigator Carlos Cruchaga.

“We may be able to draw blood from an individual with a COVID infection, check the levels of these key proteins and quickly determine risk for serious outcomes. We then could use that information to determine the best course of treatment,” Cruchaga said.

The team studied plasma samples from COVID-19 patients admitted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, US and compared them to plasma samples from 150 people who had not been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Because the samples were obtained as patients were being admitted to the hospital, the proteins linked to worse COVID-19 outcomes were identified long before any patients actually were placed on ventilators or died from the virus.

The study, published in the journal iScience, used a technique called high-throughput proteomics to identify overexpression and underexpression also known as dysregulation of the proteins.

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