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Alliance to seek therapeutic targets to treat muscle loss in patients who have suffered from severe covid-19

Alliance to seek therapeutic targets to treat muscle loss in patients who have suffered from severe covid-19

The Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute and UPF have signed a collaboration agreement with the biotechnology company REGENERON, with the United States National Institute of Health, and with the University of Kentucky to analyse how muscles are affected in these patients.

09.06.2022

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Researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and Hospital del Mar, with researchers from UPF, will participate in a study that aims to discover potential therapeutic targets to treat the significant muscle problems presented by people who have suffered from severe covd-19. To do so, they will be participating in the project Retrospective Study of Biomarkers in Skeletal Muscle of Severely Affected COVID-19 Patients, which also includes the American biotechnology company REGENERON, the US National Institute of Health, and the University of Kentucky.

It is estimated that 35% of patients who have suffered from severe covid-19 and who have required ICU treatment, suffer, among other side effects of the infection, from loss of muscle strength. It is the third most common symptom in the acute phase of the disease. In addition, 47% of people with persistent covid report fatigue, and one in four, muscle pain.

The principal researcher of the project, coordinator of the Research Group on Myogenesis, Inflammation and Muscle Function at the IMIM-Hospital del Mar, emeritus head of service of the Pneumology Service of Hospital del Mar and dean of the UPF Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Dr. Joaquim Gea, points out the reason. “What we have seen with the analysis carried out by the specialists in Pathological Anatomy, is that the blood vessels of the muscle tissue are greatly affected. The virus, or rather the inflammation caused by the infection, destroys the endothelial cells in these blood vessels. This causes fibrosis and difficulties to feed the muscle fibres”.

“The virus, or rather the inflammation caused by the infection, destroys the endothelial cells in these blood vessels. This causes fibrosis and difficulties to feed the muscle fibres”

The project researchers are Dr. Judith Marín-Corral, specialist physician with the Intensive Medicine Service at Hospital del Mar, Dr. Joan Ramon Masclans, head of the service, and Dr. Sergi Pascual, specialist physician with the Pneumology Service. The agreement signed between the parties will enable further research in this field.

To do so, samples of muscle biopsies of fifty covid-19 patients who were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Hospital del Mar will be analysed. They will be compared with those of another thirty patients also admitted to the ICU for other diseases and with those of a third group of healthy subjects. REGENERON will undertake the molecular study of the samples to attempt to discover the mechanism that causes the degradation of the muscles and potential biomarkers that may function as treatment targets, based on the review of these results carried out by the researchers.

At present there is no treatment for muscle disorders due to covid-19. The project is expected to run for four years.

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