London, July 12: British scientists have detected a pattern of irregularities in the blood of long Covid patients, an advance insight which could one day lead to the development of a lab test for the condition.
Researchers from the Imperial College London found a pattern of rogue antibodies in the blood of a small number of people with long Covid, the BBC reported.
The early findings were “exciting”, Elaine Maxwell, from the National Institute of Health Research, was quoted as saying.
She said there could be “a number of different things happening after a Covid-19 infection” and an autoimmune response “has been one of the suspected mechanisms”.
Patients with post-Covid conditions are variously referred to as having long-haul Covid, long Covid or post-acute sequelae of Covid-19 (PASC).
The condition can cover a range of conditions, across all ages, such as pain, breathing difficulties, hyperlipidemia, malaise and fatigue. Currently, there are no tests to diagnose long Covid.
In the pilot study, the team compared the blood of dozens of people and found what are called autoantibodies that were not present in people who recovered quickly, or those who have not had Covid-19, the report said.
While human immune systems have the potential to create antibodies to fight disease, sometimes the body creates autoantibodies, which attack healthy cells.
These autoantibodies may be one of the reasons behind long Covid symptoms, lead researcher Prof Danny Altmann from Imperial was quoted as saying.
Further, it is also likely that the virus may be “persisting” in some people, while others may have other problems with their immune systems.
As the research is still at an initial stage, the findings cannot yet be described as a breakthrough, Altmann said.