Predicting COVID-19 Outcomes – There’s a Test for That

PittPharmacy Assistant Professor Christian Fernandez, PhD was awarded a COVID-19 Pilot Grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the University of Pittsburgh.  

Fernandez, Ernesto Marques, MD, PhD, Donald Burke, MD, and Philip Empey, PharmD, PhD will conduct their research titled:

 “Determinants of COVID-19 clinical outcomes”

COVID-19 results in a spectrum of clinical presentations ranging from asymptomatic individuals, to respiratory failure, and death. It has been observed that patients succumbing to COVID-19 develop increased levels of proinflammatory markers and decreased levels of virus-specific antibodies. The mechanism leading to critical COVID-19 host responses in some individuals and not others is unknown.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop reliable methods that can be used to determine an individual’s risk for developing severe COVID-19 complications and to identify the mechanism leading to heightened immune responses

The aim of the project is to measure the cytokine, complement, and antibody response in moderate, severe, and fatal COVID-19 cases and to correlate these lab values with genetic variation and markers of disease progression, such as hospitalization length of stay, the need for ICU admission, and ventilator use.

Taken together, the research will help identify patients at high risk of severe disease and elucidate the mechanism leading to heightened immune responses in COVID-19 patients.

The COVID-19 Pilot Grant Program launched at the end of March in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. In a very short time, CTSI received an overwhelming amount of interest from the research community.