New evidence for how blood clots may form in very ill COVID-19 patients

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
30-Jun-2020 12:15 PM EDT, by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Newswise — Scientists have new evidence that overactive neutrophils--a common type of circulating immune cell--may drive the life-threatening blood clots and inflammation that occur in some patients with COVID-19. High levels of the sticky, pathogen-trapping webs produced by the cells were associated with the most severe cases of COVID-19 in a study reported online in the journal Blood.

Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are a type of defense that the immune system deploys against certain pathogens--webs of DNA and toxins that ensnare and destroy viruses and bacteria. When too many of these NETs accumulate during a persistent infection, they can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, which leads many patients with COVID-19 to require intensive care.

Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), University of Utah Health, PEEL Therapeutics and Weill Cornell Medicine collaborated to investigate NETs suspected role in COVID-19, collecting blood samples from 33 hospitalized patients, as well as autopsy tissue. They found that biomarkers of NET formation were more abundant in patients who required ventilation, and highest in the three study participants who eventually died from COVID-19.

When the team examined the lungs of the patients who died, they found tiny clots of tangled NETs and blood platelets known as microthrombi scattered through the tissue. "It will be important to investigate NETs role in clot formation (thrombosis) not only in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to understand their broader role in disease," says CSHL Associate Professor Mikala Egeblad.

"Excess NETs are formed in other viral diseases," she says. "We also know that clotting is a major cause of death in people with end-stage cancer, so what we are learning in COVID-19 may help us understand basic properties in cancer and other diseases."

In the laboratory, neutrophils from patients with COVID-19 churned out exceptionally high levels of NETs, and the researchers found healthy neutrophils behaved the same way when they were exposed to plasma from patients with the illness. They could stop NET production, however, by exposing cells to neonatal NET-Inhibitory Factor (nNIF), an anti-inflammatory peptide from umbilical cord blood that protects newborn babies.

Several therapeutic strategies for dismantling NETs or preventing their formation are currently under investigation. These include the nNIF peptide, which is in pre-clinical development by PEEL Therapeutics. "Although further studies will be required, the NET-inhibitory protein may block exaggerated NET formation in COVID-19 patients," says Christian Con Yost, whose laboratory at University of Utah Health discovered nNIF in 2016.

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Released: 13-Aug-2020 1:05 PM EDT
Additive Manufacturing for COVID-19
Materials Research Society (MRS)

A new Prospective article—Additive Manufacturing for COVID-19: Devices, Materials, Prospects and Challenges—published in MRS Communications, looks at these critical supply issues and provides an overview of 3D printing and how coupling the tools in additive manufacturing (AM) and advanced materials has provided a viable alternative for rapid production and distribution of PPEs and medical devices.

Newswise: Busting Up the Infection Cycle of Hepatitis B
Released: 13-Aug-2020 12:50 PM EDT
Busting Up the Infection Cycle of Hepatitis B
University of Delaware

Researchers at the University of Delaware have gained new understanding of the virus that causes hepatitis B and the “spiky ball” that encloses the virus’s genetic blueprint. They examined how the capsid—a protein shell that protects the blueprint and also drives the delivery of it to infect a host cell—assembles itself. Scientists believe that the capsid is an important target in developing drugs to treat hepatitis B, a life-threatening and incurable infection that afflicts more than 250 million people worldwide.

Newswise: 240097_web.jpg
Released: 13-Aug-2020 12:05 PM EDT
Stay-at-home orders significantly associated with reduced spread of COVID-19, study finds
Brown University

Across the globe, COVID-19 has infected more than 18 million people to date and has killed hundreds of thousands -- and the United States has been hit especially hard.

Released: 13-Aug-2020 11:45 AM EDT
COVID-19 Symptom Tracker Ensures Privacy During Isolation
Georgetown University Medical Center

An online COVID-19 symptom tracking tool developed by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center ensures a person’s confidentiality while being able to actively monitor their symptoms. The tool is not proprietary and can be used by entities that are not able to develop their own tracking systems.

Newswise: Support for telehealth and mobile health monitoring rises since COVID, study says
Released: 13-Aug-2020 11:25 AM EDT
Support for telehealth and mobile health monitoring rises since COVID, study says
University of Alabama Huntsville

Support for telehealth and mobile health monitoring has risen among healthcare workers and consumers since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study. Dr. Emil Jovanov, a pioneer in the wearable health monitoring field from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), participated and was a coauthor.

Newswise: Americans actively engaging in collectivism as financial buoy, experts say
Released: 13-Aug-2020 11:25 AM EDT
Americans actively engaging in collectivism as financial buoy, experts say
University of Notre Dame

Karen Richman, University of Notre Dame director of undergraduate studies at the Institute for Latino Studies, and her colleague, found that many people in the U.S. are relying on informal networks of family and friends to stay afloat in a recent study.

Newswise: 240116_web.jpg
Released: 13-Aug-2020 11:20 AM EDT
Researchers identify a protein that may help SARS-CoV-2 spread rapidly through cells
Colorado State University

Eric Ross and Sean Cascarina, biochemistry and molecular biology researchers at Colorado State University, have released a research paper identifying a protein encoded by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that may be associated with the quick spread of the virus through cells in the human body.

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Released: 13-Aug-2020 11:05 AM EDT
Public health consequences of policing homelessness
University of Colorado Denver

Two weeks ago, Colorado State Patrol troopers began clearing out nearly 200 residents from homeless encampments that surround the Colorado Capitol.

Released: 13-Aug-2020 10:35 AM EDT
Age discrimination seen @Twitter during #COVID19 pandemic
University of Michigan

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm for age discrimination on social media.

Released: 13-Aug-2020 10:15 AM EDT
New COVID-19 Model Reveals Need for Better Travel Restriction Implementation
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

More strategic and coordinated travel restrictions could have reduced the spread of COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic, data confirms. The conclusion, available in preprint on MedRxiv, an online repository of papers that have been screened but not peer reviewed, stems from new modeling conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


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