A team of researchers from University Hospital in Zurich have discovered an "antibody signature" that can be used to identify patients who have a high risk of developing symptoms associated with long COVID. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.
After analyzing blood from COVID patients, they found that those who continued to deal with symptoms had low levels of specific antibodies compared to those who completely recovered from the infection. When using the presence of those antibodies, along with other factors including age, the COVID symptoms they are experiencing, and other conditions such as asthma, doctors were able to accurately predict which patients would suffer from long COVID.
"Overall, we think that our findings and identification of an immunoglobulin signature will help early identification of patients that are at increased risk of developing long COVID, which in turn will facilitate research, understanding, and ultimately targeted treatments for long COVID," said Onur Boyman, a professor of immunology who led the research, according to The Guardian.
While there is no cure for long COVID, researchers hope the new discovery can help doctors identify those most at risk of suffering from the lingering effects of a COVID infection.
"This is expected to improve care for long COVID patients as well as motivate high-risk groups, such as asthmatic patients, to get vaccinated and thus prevent long COVID," said study author Dr. Carlo Cervia.
Another study identified the possible cause of "brain fog," which is a common symptom of people who long COVID.