Multimodal data analytics company PrecisionLife, which seeks to discover new insights to unlock treatment strategies for metabolic, inflammatory, respiratory, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases, and women’s health, announced this week that it will collaborate with Sano Genetics to analyze the genomic data of people suffering from long COVID symptoms. The research will strive to find both inherent risk factors for developing long COVID, as well as identify potential drug targets for long COVID treatments.
Worldwide, roughly 500 million people have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and variants, and current estimates indicate that from 5% to 30% of patients who have contracted COVID will go on to have some form of long-term health effects.
“Learning to live with COVID and manage its health consequences has long term public health and economic implications. An estimated 1.7 million people in the U.K. have reported experiences of long COVID, with symptoms lasting longer than four weeks,” noted Sano Genetics CEO and co-founder Dr. Patrick Short.
For the study, PrecisionLife will apply its combinatorial analytics platform to the genomic data of 3,000 long COVID sufferers in the U.K. held by Sano Genetics, in an effort to better identify the drivers of long term symptoms of the infection. Last year, Sano Genetics received funding via the U.K. Government’s Innovate UK to anonymously gather genomic and health outcomes data of adults suffering from long COVID.
The companies note that those suffering from long COVID are not only those who originally presented with severe symptoms from the original infection, but also people whose symptoms were relatively mild. The study also aims to ensure that the study participants reflect the population demographics of the country, in order to provide representative data of the condition.
“Long COVID is a major public health issue. Most sufferers have no clear path for engaging with the healthcare system, as diagnosis is uncertain and the complex symptoms and causes of the disease are not yet fully understood,” said Dr Steve Gardner, CEO and co-founder of PrecisionLife.
Research into the genetics of COVID-19 began early in the pandemic at PrecisionLife. A study by the company published in 2020 on the pre-print server medRx identified 68 genes that were associated with serious disease risk and hospitalization from COVID-19, which it later confirmed in a paper published in Frontiers in Health in July last year. Since then, more than 70% of the genes first identified by PrecisionLife have been identified by other, independent, research projects. Through its research, PrecisionLife identified 29 drugs that could be repurposed to treat COVID-19, with 13 of them currently undergoing clinical trials with COVID-19 patients.
“In our 2020 study, we noted a range of cardiovascular, immunological, and neurological changes in COVID-19 patients and want to understand whether these are transient or permanent,” Gardner added. “We are confident that this study into the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, working in partnership with Sano Genetics, will deliver valuable insights to enable a better understanding of long COVID vulnerabilities and ultimately ensure that personalized treatments are directed towards those patients that need them most.”