LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A research team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has identified a possible source for long-term symptoms experienced by COVID-19 patients, often referred to as long-haulers.
As many as 30% of COVID-19 patients experience lingering fatigue, brain fog, and shortness of breath, puzzling many doctors – until now.
The study took 67 samples from people who had donated convalescent plasma after testing positive and recovering from COVID-19, as well as 13 people who had never been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Of those who had been infected, researchers found nearly 81% of the plasma samples contained an antibody that attacked an enzyme that helps regulates that body’s immune system.
The finding indicates that a second antibody emerges weeks after the initial infection, telling the body to continue its immune response and causing ongoing symptoms for patients.
“What we’ve shown so far is that people do make an antibody and that the antibody acts the way we think it would – that it’s the cause of long-COVID. What we haven’t shown yet, is there really is an association between people having this antibody and having symptoms of long COVID,” says lead researcher John Arthur, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Nephrology in the UAMS College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Arthur says the team will now be testing participants with known long-haul symptoms.
“The symptom that we’re going to focus on first is fatigue. So we think that once if we can figure out the mechanism involved, that’s going to lead to treatment.”
Dr. Arthur says the next research phase would involve testing such drugs to help long-haulers achieve symptom relief.
“If our next steps confirm that this antibody is the cause of long COVID symptoms, there are medications that should work to treat them.”
You can read more about the University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s research here.
If you are suffering from long-haul symptoms and would like to potentially participate in the next study you can sign up here.