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BC007



Recently Berlin Cures announced that they would not be accepting any more blood samples to test for autoantibodies in those with Long Covid.

We are hoping that this is a sign that their clinical trial using the drug BC007 in people with Long Covid is underway.

In today's post I am going to talk a little bit more about BC007, autoantibodies in Long Covid and red cell deformability.


Red cell deformability

In the University of Erlangen, Germany an ophthalmologist Dr Bettina Hohberger has written several research papers looking at the effects of an acute Covid-19 infection on the blood flow in the smallest blood vessels in the back of our eyes - the "retinal microcirculation".

They found that the flow of blood was restricted and that this was due to a change in the red blood cells (the cells that carry oxygen to the tissues). In order to get into the smallest blood vessels the red blood cells have to bend their shape and squeeze into the tiny capillaries. This is called their "deformability".


Arteriole Capillary


The Erlangen team found that some of our red blood cells were rigid and round and unable to deform to squeeze into the capillaries.

This means that the blood flow is restricted to the back of the eyes the consequence of which is that oxygen and the essential nutrients are not getting to the tissue of the eye.


Arteriole Capillary


This problem of oxygen delivery can explain symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, muscular pain, Post Exertional Symptom Exacerbation - as the tissues of our body are not getting the fuel they need to make energy.


Autoantibodies

Berlin Cures and their drug BC007 which they were trialling in patients with autoimmune heart failure since 2016. BC007 is a drug that is able to bind to and neutralise the autoantibodies that attach to G-protein-coupled receptors.

There was then a flurry of papers highlighting that this new drug maybe beneficial for "functional antibody diseases" such as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, ME/CFS amongst others where these antibodies were known to be present.

*This is why I wanted to send my blood for testing to the Berlin Cures lab - to look for these autoantibodies in my blood. Below is an example of a long hauler who has had their blood tested:



There are other ways to remove the autoanbodies - apheresis, immunoadsorption, intravenous IgG treatment (IVIG), or Rituximab but these are costly, have side effects and maybe less effective.


So back to Dr Hohbecker. The team dug a little deeper and found that the autoantibodies found in the blood of Long Covid patients could cause the affect on the red blood cells deformability.


* I would just like to point out at this stage that in January 2019 researchers at Stanford University had already published a paper demonstrating red cell deformity in patients with ME/CFS and identifying it as a possible biomarker and cause for symptoms *


BC007

Working closely with Berlin Cures the Erlangen team started to give Long Covid patients 75 minute BC007 infusions with amazing results.

Cognitive dysfunction improved, fatigue improved, dysautonomia improved.

In the eye clinic it was noted that blood flow improved in the eyes. There was a decrease in the levels of autoantibodies in the blood and the red blood cells started to deform again. The improvements lasted several months at least.


This research added to the growing evidence that Long Covid is the result of ongoing endothelial ( the lining of the blood vessel walls) damage.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus enters via the ACE-2 receptor into the endothelial cells. As the virus entered the cells, it sparks a hypercoagulation response which produces microclots. The team also hypothesize that the capillary damage seen in the eyes simply reflects a massive disruption of the small blood vessels across the body.


Long covid research

After many months battling for funding Berlin Cures has now, we hope, started a small clinical trial to test BC007 in Long Covid patients. If it has a successful outcome then this could potentially help long haulers , POTS patients and ME/CFS sufferers, amongst others.


Again though it highlights the need for Long Covid to be taken seriously, for doctors throughout the world to understand it is a pathological process and that we need to start using these biomarkers for diagnosis, validation and potential therapies.

References

Berlin Cures https://www.berlincures.de/en/bc-007-pipeline

ME/CFS research https://www.meaction.net/2019/01/02/study-shows-that-red-blood-cells-are-stiffer-in-people-with-me/

Retinal Microcirculation post Covid-19

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2021.676554/full

Tracking long COVID in the blood https://www.dw.com/en/tracking-long-covid-in-the-blood/av-60658430

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