A Blood Test for Long Covid?

So for those of us who watched the Panorama programme last night we were introduced to Professor Danny Altman at Imperial College London who has been a leading light right from the start of this pandemic and especially when it comes to Long Covid Advocacy.

His current research is looking into autoantibodies in the blood of patients with LC.

R.C.D.B side note - anyone with LC it's a must see. I watched it with my daughters and had a good cry and felt a bit more validated. Personally I didn't think it hit hard enough but in the end it was one woman's LC journey and hopefully being on the BBC at prime time it will have raised some awareness

In April I wrote a post on autoantibodies in Long Covid where I reported on research published in the Journal of Translational Autoimmunity. They had found functional autoantibodies against G-protein coupled receptors in patients with persistent Long-COVID-19 symptoms. Unsurprisingly to me these are the main autoantibody found in POTS too. (If you need to understand a little more about autoantibodies please click on the link to my posts in references).

So we don't know at the moment which autoantibodies the team at Imperial College London are studying but the fact that they were willing to disclose that they were "close" is very positive.

The following article "Scientists raise hopes of blood test for Long Covid" by Chloe Kent 12th July 2021 for Medical Device Network explains some more:

"Long Covid patients were found to have autoantibodies in their blood, which would explain their long-term symptoms.

Research carried out at Imperial College London, UK, suggests that long Covid could soon be diagnosed by a simple blood test.

Pilot data has identified autoantibodies in the blood of long Covid patients. These autoantibodies were not found in the blood of people who recovered quickly from the virus or had never tested positive for the disease.

Unlike regular antibodies that help to fight off infections, autoantibodies mistakenly target and react with a person’s own tissues and organs. They have been linked to a number of autoimmune conditions, such as Grave’s disease, arthritis and some cases of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

There is currently no objective diagnostic test for people with long Covid, which can make it difficult for patients to find a diagnosis. The Imperial researchers hope that their work could be the first step towards a point-of-care diagnostic blood test for long Covid.

Imperial College London professor of immunology Danny Altmann, who is leading the research, said: “I’m famously optimistic, so I’d hope that within six months we’d have a simple blood test that you could get from your GP, and that I think could have quite a big impact for people who don’t feel they’ve managed to convince their GP or accessed specialist care because instead of being my word against yours, it has a diagnostic test.”

Altmann has also expressed concern at what the UK’s relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions could mean for cases of long covid.

He said: “One of the things we know for absolute certain is that long Covid can ensue from any form of infection – asymptomatic, mild, severe, so if we’re heading into a phase of 100,000 cases per day, in the coming months and we’re saying that 10%-20% of all infections can result in long Covid, I can see no certainty that we’re not brewing those long Covid cases despite having a vaccinated population.”

It’s not yet clear how prevalent long Covid is among fully or partially vaccinated individuals".

I wait with baited breath not only because this blood test could do so so much for LC advocacy but also the identification of autoantibodies will be identifiable biomarkers for Long Covid and may give researchers clues for treatment.

With so much cross over between LC, POTS and ME/CFS maybe it will aid these sufferers cause too?


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