A new research project at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) will classify types of 'Long COVID' within at-risk populations.
The Federal Government today announced it would provide funding of $3.4 million to the Australian National Phenome Centre at Murdoch University to further its research into improving the understanding of long-term impacts of COVID-19 and develop new models to predict disease progression and tailor treatment.
Led by ANPC Director Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the team will apply state-of-the-art phenomic methods to profile patients afflicted with Post-Acute Covid-19 Syndrome (PACS) – otherwise known as 'Long COVID' to classify the disease within at-risk populations. The research will be conducted in collaboration with partners at Harvard University, Monash University and The University of Western Australia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 265 million people worldwide to date and resulted in over 5.6 million deaths. There is strong evidence that a high proportion of patients do not fully recover and may show persistent effects.” Professor Jeremy Nicholson
“The increasing number of individuals suffering from persistent effects of COVID-19 requires novel, non-standard approaches to better understand and monitor long-term disease impact. Importantly, we need to be able to provide an objective classification of the condition and individual metabolic states, so that we may optimise and tailor our clinical management protocols for a full recovery.”
Earlier this year, the team at ANPC developed a novel framework for assessing Long COVID using a range of new biomarkers that can be monitored during the acute disease phase, and beyond, to ascertain exactly how the disease is progressing.
“With this project, we will build on our framework using multi-variate modelling of spectroscopic and immunology data to enhance the understanding of underlying molecular pathways associated with metabolic abnormalities,” Professor Nicholson said.
“We will monitor these long-term biochemical changes in blood to determine the health trajectories of patients so that clinicians can act sooner to provide more precise treatment options. It is also expected to reduce morbidity and improve quality of life post-infection, which may then improve clinical outcomes especially for those in high-risk groups.
The impact of COVID-19 on the Australian way of living has not been fully understood yet and the emergence of the Omicron variant has highlighted the importance of robust health measures in order to drive our COVID-19 health response.”
Previous research by the ANPC team has already demonstrated a deeply systemic nature of disease, characterised by distinct metabolic signatures including those observed with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver dysfunction, neurological disruption and acute inflammation.
“Individuals with PACS manifest variable, persistent, systemic biochemical perturbations following initial viral infection. Even asymptomatic post-acute patients can have multiple metabolic abnormalities that affect long term disease,” Professor Nicholson said.
“Once established, this framework will promote increased surveillance, early intervention and longitudinal care, aiming to restore the working capacity of the recovering individual as well as minimising harm and emotional stress, and reducing the burden on the healthcare system.”
This research supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.