New study finds ‘Cell Fitness’ determines outcome for Covid Patients

New research conducted by the University of Queensland (UQ) in conjunction with the University of Copenhagen has found that an individual’s ‘cell fitness’ is a significantly more accurate way to predict how a patient will respond to Covid-19 infection than traditional methods.

As part of the study, UQ’s Dr Arutha Kulasinghe and his team conducted analysis of the lung tissue of people who had died from Covid-19 and found that a specific marker of cell fitness – called hFwe-Lose – was highly indicative of how well a patient’s immune system will respond to the virus.

“We found that patients with acute lung injury had higher levels of the biomarker in their lower respiratory tract and areas of cell death,” Dr Kulasinghe said in a statement.

“More importantly, we also found that the cell fitness marker outperformed conventional methods, such as age, inflammation and co-existing diseases, in predicting health outcomes, such as hospitalisation and death, in Covid patients.”

The hFwe-Lose cellular fitness marker is a mechanism through which weak and health-compromised cells are identified and eliminated by the body’s immune system. This system is designed to ensure optimal cellular health over time.

It’s known that, in a number of cancers, the hFwe-Lose cellular fitness marker is expressed in noncancerous cells surrounding a tumour, signalling their lack of fitness, and earmarking them for elimination.

According to the joint University paper published in the EMBO Molecular Medicine journal, “… hFwe-Lose is a unique marker for suboptimal or unfit status of cells in many tissues or organ systems. Low division potential, genotoxic stress, cytotoxic stress, radiation, aging, and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) negatively impact cellular fitness and may render a cell suboptimal.”

Dr Kulasinghe believes a simple nasal swab could quickly determine the level of hFwe-Lose expressed by a patient presenting with Covid-19 and this would prove extremely useful in early triage.

“The cell fitness marker would enable medical teams to identify patients more likely to develop severe symptoms, provide closer monitoring and earlier access to hospitalisation and intensive care,” Dr Kulasinghe said.

The new findings may also have implications for research into preventative medicines, and the development of treatments that bolster cell health and reduce the prevalence of hFwe-Lose.

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