Institute for Systems Biology https://isbscience.org Mon, 04 Apr 2022 16:56:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.2 https://isbscience.org/wp-content/uploads/cropped-android-chrome-512x512-32x32.png Institute for Systems Biology https://isbscience.org 32 32 Understanding, Preventing and Treating Long-Term Effects of COVID: RECOVER Study Enrolling Patients from Pacific Northwest https://isbscience.org/news/2022/04/04/understanding-preventing-and-treating-long-term-effects-of-covid-recover-study-enrolling-patients-from-pacific-northwest/ Mon, 04 Apr 2022 16:12:31 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135608 As part of a massive nationwide effort, ISB is leading a multi-site consortium for the NIH RECOVER (Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery) Initiative. The Pacific Northwest consortium is made up of ISB, Providence, Swedish, and University of Washington School of Medicine.

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As part of a massive nationwide effort to understand the condition commonly known as long COVID, Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is leading a multi-site Pacific Northwest consortium – http://www.pnwrecover.org/ – as part of the NIH-funded RECOVER initiative. RECOVER, which stands for REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery, is a large-scale research effort designed to ask why some people have prolonged symptoms following COVID-19, and to get real answers to help alleviate suffering as fast as possible.

“ISB is honored to work with our scientific and clinical peers to better understand why so many individuals experience chronic conditions following SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said ISB President Dr. Jim Heath, the principal investigator of the Northwest consortium. “This is something we have been studying and making some headway on over the past year, and we are very grateful to those individuals who are participating in our studies by giving both their time and blood.”

(Important research by a collaborative group led by Heath that details four factors that can be predictive of long COVID at the initial point of COVID-19 diagnosis was recently published online by the journal Cell, and has received a tremendous amount of press coverage, including this story by the New York Times.)

ISB will work closely with Providence, Swedish, and University of Washington School of Medicine to recruit more than 900 patients throughout the greater Pacific Northwest over four years. Recruitment for the study has begun at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. Swedish and the University of Washington have been recruiting since early March.

Anyone interested in learning more about or participating in this study should visit pnwrecover.org.

The long-term effects of the virus are called post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC. Long COVID is a form of PASC, and refers to symptoms that persist for weeks or months after acute infection. Common symptoms include inability to exercise, headaches, fatigue, “brain fog,” shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, fever, chronic cough, and sleep problems.

“As an infectious disease clinician and scientist caring for patients suffering from COVID-19, I’ve seen the devastating effects that long COVID can have, many weeks or months after SARS-CoV-2 infection. We are excited to partner with patients in our communities around the Pacific Northwest to work toward prevention and treatments for these debilitating symptoms,” said Dr. Jason Goldman, an infectious disease physician at Swedish. “If you are a patient who had COVID-19, we look forward to listening to your perspectives and experiences with SARS-CoV-2 or long COVID. Please consider participating in the effort to solve the puzzle of long COVID.”

More than 30 research teams across the country are part of the RECOVER Consortium, and the study has several goals, including characterizing the incidence, prevalence and long-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study also seeks to determine the risk factors and underlying mechanisms associated with PASC.

“As the UW Medicine lead investigator, we will enroll participants to better understand the clinical and immune profiles of individuals with PASC, particularly in underserved populations in the Pacific Northwest,” said Dr. Helen Chu, associate professor in Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. “Starting from early in the pandemic, we observed how persistent symptoms have continued to affect peoples’ lives long after their initial illness and we are looking forward to participating in this study with all our local partners.”

Data from the RECOVER study will include clinical information, laboratory tests, and analyses of participants in various stages of recovery following SARS-CoV-2 infection. With immediate access to data from existing, diverse study populations, it is anticipated researchers will be able to accelerate the timeline for this important research.

“Providence Everett admitted the nation’s first known case of COVID-19 in early 2020, so we’ve been at this longer than any other health system,” said Providence President and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips. “We’ve seen hundreds of patients with long-term impacts of the disease. Providence’s participation in the RECOVER study, along with our incredible peers, will result in more information about the long-term effects of COVID, which will be incredibly helpful to our clinicians.”

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2021-22 School Year ISB Education Highlights https://isbscience.org/news/2022/03/28/2021-22-school-year-isb-education-highlights/ Mon, 28 Mar 2022 15:25:44 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135460 From planning, creating and executing workshops for educators to forging new relationships to elevate students, the ISB Education team has been in high gear. Each month throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, we will highlight some of the top projects the team is working on.

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Each month throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, we will highlight some of the top projects the team is working on.

March highlights:

ISB Education published a guide for principals strengthening the science/STEM program at their schools.

The article is now part of the popular series of STEM Teaching Tools, where it helps capture the focus of Principles of Science for Principals (P4P) – how the principal plays a crucial part of the school dynamics around actualizing the vision of systemic science instructional growth for K12 educators. 

And our article made the list of “7 things to know about quality K-12 science education in March 2022” – you can see the full list here

 ISB Education led professional development workshops to support teams of teachers to implement open educational resources (OERs).

OERs are rapidly becoming commonplace in classrooms across the country and teachers are eager to implement these accessible and adaptable resources with their students. Here are two ways we are supporting teachers to use several OERs now: 

  • Systems Education Experiences modules: Claudia Ludwig and Miranda Johnson, in collaboration with scientists Monica Orellana (of ISB) and Anne Thompson (of Portland State University), led 11 high school teachers who collectively teach over 1,000 students in nine different schools to implement ISB-developed modules that engage students in current research focused on climate science themes.  https://see.isbscience.org/modules/
  • OpenSciEd: John Leitzinger, Meg Town and Caroline Kiehle, in collaboration with Angie DiLoretto from Bellevue School District, are currently working with 34 high school chemistry teachers and science coaches from four school districts to pilot a new unit that integrates chemistry and Earth science. They are teaching the unit with 4,500 students this year. This unit will soon be available to be used for free in chemistry classrooms across the country. https://www.openscied.org/about/
February highlights:

ISB Education is reaching key benchmarks on our project, “Networks, Measures & Scaling Up.”

  • Networks – We developed a theoretical framework to accompany our “ISB Model for Science/STEM Education.” An example of our active network is seen here. Our work across multiple channels helped a broad range of teachers learn about professional development opportunities with us.

  • Measures – We established indicators to build into a suite of evaluation surveys for ISB to measure the impact of our workshops, and for teachers and students to reflect on learning progress. An elementary teacher had her whole class working on systems diagrams – this one will make you smile! Stay tuned for our K-12 impact data in June.
  • Scaling Up –  We are taking action, through our statewide leadership role in LASER, in response to the State Board of Education including elementary science in their 2022 legislative platform. Under its overall goal of Educational Equity, one of the four priorities is to “provide equitable access to relevant and engaging learning opportunities.”
    Legislative Priorities | SBE

    Legislative Priorities | SBE

    1. Graduation Pathways – Expand graduation pathway offerings so every student can access a pathway that aligns to their High School and Beyond Plan and meaningfully prepares them for their post high school goals.
    2. Dual Credit – Fully fund dual credit programs so students can participate and earn college credit for free.
    3. Elementary Science – Ensure equitable access to high quality elementary science learning opportunities.
    4. Mastery-based Learning – Help school districts expand access to mastery-based learning opportunities for students by addressing barriers and providing incentives and support.
January highlights:

ISB Education is excited to launch their first workshop of 2022.

The team responded to school leaders challenged by this chaotic school year by postponing their fall workshop series. They are now working with collaborators to customize dates for many more workshops this spring.

  • Systems are Everywhere (K-5 Version) was developed by the ISB Education group. It is facilitated by Jen Eklund and Becky Howsmon, with STEM professionals from the ISB SEE video collection, “Systems Thinkers in STEM.”  Learn more and access resources here.
  • The series has two parts: (a) two workshops about learning to use the ISB SEE module called “Systems Are Everywhere” to weave the three dimensions of science learning into any district’s core science unit or project; and (b) classroom implementation and gathering evidence of student learning. Learn more about the units here and more upcoming workshops here.

ISB Education is looking forward to hosting high school and undergraduate interns this summer – application process is open

  • Last year, the team received 575 applications for the high school program and 305 applications for the undergraduate program.
  • This year, we are piloting an Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience, where 6-10 local high school students will work together to perform environmental STEM research at Seattle-area outdoor field locations with ISB educators and scientists.
  • Learn more about our high school and undergraduate opportunities here.

ISB Education sends out a heartfelt thank you to 2021-22 funders and partners.

The team feels incredibly fortunate to have an active group of partners supporting this year’s efforts.

sponsors

Douglas Howe & Robin DuBrin
Jennifer Hadlock
Laurie Black
Christine Schaeffer
Dee Dickinson
Aron & Sara Thompson
Gil Omenn & Martha Darling
Chris & Barb Moe
Terry Bergeson
Hui Hong
Mary & Arne Anderson
Suzie Burke
Carl & Carole Scandella
B Lippitt
Ann Eklund
Marne Anderson
Electa Anderson
Ben Roberts
JoAnn Chrisman
Michael Walker
Darla Thomas-McGarry
Serena & Paul Swegle
Elizabeth Schneider
December highlights:

ISB’s end-of-year fundraising appeal highlighted the direct education impacts from the 2020-2021 school year (see image above). These numbers represent the work our educators completed directly with students, teachers, leaders, and partners. The indirect impact can be a multiplicative factor reaching many thousands this year alone.

ISB Education is honored to be acknowledged as a strong industry partner for Seattle Public Schools’ CTE programs.

  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide middle and high school students with the opportunity to explore careers and learn 21st century, academic and technical skills. CTE programs are offered in schools and skills centers around Washington state and nationally.
  • ISB Education is on the Health and Human Service CTE Advisory Committee for Seattle Public Schools (SPS),providing industry insight on current trends in biotech, and health research.
  • ISB’s contributions were highlighted on the SPS CTE Newsletter for November 2021.

ISB Education is excited that its new Systems Medicine high school course will be included in Seattle Public School’s new Allied Health and Medical Pathways CTE program

  • CTE Graduation Pathways are a series of connected courses that allow students to explore careers while earning dual college credit and industry-related credentials.
  • A new Allied Health and Medical Pathway program was launched by SPS in 2019 and is available to students at six Seattle high schools: Franklin HS, Rainier Beach HS, Garfield HS, Lincoln HS, Chief Sealth International HS, and Nathan Hale HS.
  • The Systems Medicine course is a full year CTE course for high school students to learn principles and practices of systems medicine. This course will be the culminating course in the pathway program with implementation beginning Fall 2022.

ISB’s systems approach to science research is being applied by the Education group, too. On November 17, ISB Education was pleased to help present a session at Washington STEM’s annual summit, “Systems Partners in Science/STEM Equity.”

November highlights: 

ISB Education showcases exemplary high school students and their self driven-projects.

  • Since February 2021, ISB has worked with over 200 high school students through our Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadorship (STiSA). In November, we launched an online showcase that will feature over 50 of these student ambassadors.
  • Learn more about the showcase, the ambassadors, and their projects on our website. Follow along every Tuesday and Wednesday via #STEMsystemsthinkers, the website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter through June 2022.

ISB Education was honored to help plan and deliver E3 Washington’s conference. 

  • E3 Washington – Educators for Environment, Equity, and Economy – is the state’s professional association for environment and sustainability educators and a longtime partner of ISB.
  • ISB educators have helped plan and host E3 Washington’s annual conference since 2019.
  • Learn more at https://www.e3washington.org/conference

ISB Education proudly shared ISB’s new video shorts with colleagues.

  • Each short video describes an idea – for example, ISB’s biobank or the skinny on probiotics.
  • We shared these resources with local teachers and industry partners at the Puget Sound Biotechnology Advisory Committee, with our social media followers, and through our curriculum modules.
  • Watch them at https://www.youtube.com/user/ISBSystemsBiology
October highlights:

ISB Education supported the implementation of a series of quantitative activities as part of ISB’s National Science Foundation – Research Coordination Network Incubator Project: Networking Systems Biologists with Community College Educators

  • Dr. Jen Eklund and Claudia Ludwig worked with ISB Scientists Drs. Christian Diener and Sean Gibbons and Community College Educators Dr. Gita Bangera of Bellevue College and Kim Harrington of Tacoma Community College, to support 10 community college faculty to engage with contemporary quantitative biological methods and design activities to implement in the biology majors course series. Each activity focuses on an authentic dataset and supports students to develop a variety of skills.
  • The activities will be implemented in CC bio courses throughout the 2021-22 academic year.
  • More at: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2019088

ISB Education participated in a National Academies event titled “Taking Stock of Science Standards Implementation: A Summit”  

ISB Education presented exciting updates on Systems Medicine high school education modules

  • Dr. Becky Howsmon presented the latest research, resources, and field test results at ISB’s weekly Research in Progress series on October 20, 2021.
  • This led to new ideas and insights from ISB researchers that will collectively advance the four modules within the Systems Medicine course and curriculum.

ISB Education was thrilled to see our colleagues in the Gibbons Lab achieve success as they hosted their 2nd annual Microbiome symposium

  • ISB hosted a two-day course on October 13 and October 14, followed by a symposium on October 15. A record 2,187 people from 46 states and 80 countries participated.
  • Watch videos of the three-day event and learn more at https://isbscience.org/microbiome2021/.
September highlights:

ISB Education designed a series of ClimeTime workshops for K-12 science/STEM educators

ISB Education welcomed an AmeriCorps Member

  • Miranda Johnson (AmeriCorps/Washington Service Corps) began September 16th and is working with 200 high school Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadors. A number of them are designing and implementing environmental stewardship projects in their schools and communities.

ISB Education formed the Puget Sound LASER Alliance  

  • LASER is Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform, a statewide network of science/STEM leaders.
  • ISB is the lead organization after merging two LASER Alliances into one science leadership network that serves this region’s ~40% of the state’s schoolchildren.
  • John Leitzinger is the Puget Sound Alliance director (contractor with ISB Education, recently retired from leading STEM for the Tacoma school district.
  • Caroline Kiehle is a statewide LASER co-director
  • Learn more about LASER

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Dr. Jim Heath Named Fellow of AACR Academy Class of 2022 https://isbscience.org/news/2022/03/22/dr-jim-heath-named-fellow-of-aacr-academy-class-of-2022/ Tue, 22 Mar 2022 14:01:24 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135630 Dr. Jim Heath was announced as a newly elected Fellow of the American Academy for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy Class of 2022. “I am honored and humbled to be recognized as part of this renowned group of researchers who have done so much to move our understanding of cancer forward,” Heath said.

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Jim Heath AACR Academy Fellow

ISB President Dr. Jim Heath has been named a Fellow of the AACR Academy Class of 2022.

Dr. Jim Heath has joined a prestigious group of cancer researchers as a newly elected Fellow of the American Academy for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy Class of 2022. 

The AACR Academy’s mission is to recognize and honor distinguished scientists whose scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. 

Heath was chosen as an AACR Academy Fellow for his pivotal contributions to the fields of biotechnology and cancer immunotherapy, bridging chemical synthesis and physics with biology to develop nanoscale technologies including single cell barcoding, the isolation of T cells recognizing neoantigens to generate novel T-cell therapies, and microfluidic chips for diagnostic purposes that provide an opportunity to stratify patients and analyze a patient’s antitumor response to drug treatment. 

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized as part of this renowned group of researchers who have done so much to move our understanding of cancer forward,” Heath said. 

Heath is one of 33 scientists elected for this year’s class of Fellows. The newly elected class joins 256 existing Fellows. Fellows of the AACR Academy serve as a global brain trust of top contributors to cancer science and medicine who help advance the mission of the AACR to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, collaboration, science policy and advocacy, and funding for cancer research.

“The 2022 class consists of various luminaries who span the gamut of scientific disciplines. Collectively, their work has significantly accelerated the pace of progress against cancer and has served as an inspiration for countless cancer researchers,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR.

Heath has led the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) as president and professor since 2018, and also serves as professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA and distinguished affiliate professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Bioengineering. He has directed the National Cancer Institute-funded NSB Cancer Center since 2005, and previously was the Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor of Chemistry at Caltech and served as co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at UCLA until 2017.

About ISB

Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is a collaborative and cross-disciplinary non-profit biomedical research organization based in Seattle. We focus on some of the most pressing issues in human health, including aging, brain health, cancer, COVID-19, sepsis, as well as many infectious diseases. Our science is translational, and we champion sound scientific research that results in real-world clinical impacts. ISB is an affiliate of Providence, one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the United States. Follow us online at www.isbscience.org, and on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 50,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 129 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops—the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting, with more than 74,000 attendees for the 2020 virtual meetings and more than 22,500 attendees for past in-person meetings. In addition, the AACR publishes 10 prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.

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Institute for Systems Biology Expresses our Solidarity with Ukraine https://isbscience.org/news/2022/03/11/institute-for-systems-biology-expresses-our-solidarity-with-ukraine/ Fri, 11 Mar 2022 18:08:49 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135623 A message to Ukrainian scientists Institute for Systems Biology expresses our solidarity with Ukraine. We are saddened by the invasion of Ukraine, and our thoughts are with those in affected regions. We highly encourage Ukrainian scientists to consider career opportunities in research at ISB, and we will give careful consideration to any who apply. It is our hope that peace is reclaimed in Ukraine and that a healthy, prosperous, sustainable...

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A message to Ukrainian scientists

Institute for Systems Biology expresses our solidarity with Ukraine. We are saddened by the invasion of Ukraine, and our thoughts are with those in affected regions.

We highly encourage Ukrainian scientists to consider career opportunities in research at ISB, and we will give careful consideration to any who apply.

It is our hope that peace is reclaimed in Ukraine and that a healthy, prosperous, sustainable future is restored for all.

On behalf of ISB,
Jim Heath, President and Professor


Послання до вчених України

Інститут системної біології висловлює солідарність з Україною. Нас глибоко засмутила звістка про вторгнення до України, і ми подумки з усіма людьми, що знаходяться зараз у постраждалих регіонах.

Ми всіляко заохочуємо українських вчених скоирстатися можливістю кар’єрного розвитку в ISB, і ми уважно розглянемо кожну таку заяву.

Сподіваємося на відновлення миру в Україні, а також на те, що квітуче, надійне та сповнене здорового духу майбутнє настане для нас усіх.

Від імені ISB,
Jim Heath, президент та професор


Сообщение для украинских ученых

 Институт Системной Биологии выражает солидарность с Украиной в связи с текущими событиями. Мы крайне опечалены вторжением, и беспокоимся о тех, кто проживает и кого затронуло происходящее в регионе.

Мы бы хотели воодушевить украинских ученых и попросить их посмотреть на доступные рабочие позиции в Институте. Мы тщательно рассмотрим заявление каждого.

Мы надеемся, что в Украине восстановится мир, а вместе с ним – надежда на благополучное будущее для всех.

От имени Института Системной Биологии,

Джим Хит, Президент и Профессор

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New York Times’ Matt Richtel on the ‘Elegant’ Immune System https://isbscience.org/news/2022/02/17/new-york-times-matt-richtel-on-the-elegant-immune-system/ Thu, 17 Feb 2022 23:56:38 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135593 In the first ISB-Town Hall Seattle Science Series of 2022, ISB President Dr. Jim Heath sat down with New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and bestselling author Matt Richtel for a wide ranging discussion that touched on the incredible immune system, distracted driving, social isolation, and much more.

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In the first ISB-Town Hall Seattle Science Series of 2022, ISB President Dr. Jim Heath sat down with New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and bestselling author Matt Richtel for a wide ranging discussion that touched on the incredible immune system, distracted driving, social isolation, and much more. You can watch the hour-long fireside chat by clicking play on the video above. 

About the Science Series 

ISB and Town Hall Seattle have put on a number of virtual events focusing on a range of important scientific issues: The state of the microbiome field, the new science of longevity, why we age (and why we don’t have to), the importance of getting kids outside, STEM policy and advocacy, the politics of immunization, mining sewage to track population health, creating new senses for humans, and more. 

We will continue creating compelling events. To make sure you know of upcoming conversations, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for event updates.

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ISB Research on Long COVID featured on PBS NewsHour https://isbscience.org/news/2022/02/01/isb-research-on-long-covid-featured-on-pbs-newshour/ Wed, 02 Feb 2022 00:18:35 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135575 Who is most likely to suffer from long COVID? In this PBS NewsHour segment, William Brangham interviews Swedish’s Dr. Jason Goldman, an author and collaborator on the ISB-led study on long COVID published in the journal Cell.

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ISB Research on Long COVID featured in the Wall Street Journal https://isbscience.org/news/2022/01/31/isb-research-on-long-covid-featured-in-the-wall-street-journal/ Mon, 31 Jan 2022 18:23:14 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135573 In an article published by Sumathi Reddy for the Wall Street Journal titled, “The New Clues About Who Will Develop Long Covid ,” findings of an ISB-led study published in the journal Cell are covered, along with two complementary Long Covid studies conducted by other research organizations.

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ISB Research On Long COVID Featured in the New York Times https://isbscience.org/news/2022/01/26/isb-research-on-long-covid-featured-in-the-new-york-times/ Wed, 26 Jan 2022 17:02:51 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135538 In an article published by Pam Belluck for the New York Times titled, "New Research Hints at 4 Factors That May Increase Chances of Long Covid," findings of an ISB-led study published in the journal Cell are covered in depth, including quotes from ISB president Dr. Jim Heath.

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Predicting ‘Long COVID’ At Initial Point of COVID-19 Diagnosis https://isbscience.org/news/2022/01/25/predicting-long-covid-at-initial-point-of-covid-19-diagnosis/ Tue, 25 Jan 2022 15:10:57 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135535 Researchers have identified several factors that can be measured at the initial point of COVID-19 diagnosis that anticipate if a patient is likely to develop long COVID. They also found that mild cases of COVID-19, not just severe cases, are associated with long COVID. Their findings were published by the journal Cell.

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An ISB-led study has identified several factors that can predict if a patient is likely to develop long COVID. In this video, three of the paper’s authors – Dr. Jim Heath, Dr. Yapeng Su and Daniel Chen – discuss some of the implications of their work.

A significant portion of people who contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus – some estimates suggest more than 40 percent – suffer chronic effects known as Post Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), commonly referred to as long COVID. PASC symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, the loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath, and more.

Now, researchers have identified several factors that can be measured at the initial point of COVID-19 diagnosis that anticipate if a patient is likely to develop long COVID. These “PASC factors” are the presence of certain autoantibodies, pre-existing Type 2 diabetes, SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in the blood, and Epstein-Barr virus DNA levels in blood. 

“Identifying these PASC factors is a major step forward for not only understanding long COVID and potentially treating it, but also which patients are at highest risk for the development of chronic conditions,” said ISB President, Dr. Jim Heath, co-corresponding author of a just-published research paper in Cell. “These findings are also helping us frame our thinking around other chronic conditions, such as post-acute Lyme syndrome, for example.”

Additionally, researchers found that mild cases of COVID-19, not just severe cases, are associated with long COVID. They also suggest that administering antivirals very early in the disease course may potentially prevent some PASC. 

“Long COVID is causing significant morbidity in survivors of COVID-19, yet the pathobiology is poorly understood,” said Dr. Jason Goldman, co-corresponding author of the paper and an infectious disease expert at Swedish. “Our study pairs clinical data and patient-reported outcomes with deep multi-omic analyses to unravel important biological associations that occur in patients with PASC. Certain findings such as the low cortisol state in patients with long COVID have potential to translate rapidly to the clinic. Our results form an important foundation for the development of therapeutics to treat long COVID.” 

Researchers collected blood and swab samples from 309 COVID-19 patients at different time points to perform comprehensive phenotyping which was integrated with clinical data and patient-reported symptoms to carry out a deep multi-omic, longitudinal investigation. 

A key finding from the study deals with viral load, which can be measured near diagnosis to predict long COVID symptoms.

“We found that early blood viral measurements are strongly associated with certain long COVID symptoms that patients will develop months later,” said Dr. Yapeng Su, a co-first and co-corresponding author of the paper. 

In addition, researchers found the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) – a virus that infects 90 percent of the human population and is normally inactive in the body after infection – is reactivated early on after SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is significantly associated with future long COVID symptoms. “This may be related to immune dysregulation during COVID-19 infection,” Su added. 

The team also found that PASC is anticipated by autoantibodies (which associate with autoimmune diseases like lupus) at diagnosis, and that as autoantibodies increase, protective SARS-CoV-2 antibodies decrease. This suggests a relationship between long COVID, autoantibodies and patients at elevated risk of re-infections. 

“Many patients with high autoantibodies simultaneously have low (protective) antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2, and that’s going to make them more susceptible to breakthrough infections,” said Daniel Chen, a co-first author of the paper. 

The research project was a collaboration between ISB, Providence, Swedish the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Stanford, UCLA, UCSF, and others. 

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Maternal COVID-19 Infection Increases Risks of Preterm Birth, Low Birth Weight and Stillbirth https://isbscience.org/news/2022/01/13/maternal-covid-19-infection-increases-risks-of-preterm-birth-low-birth-weight-and-stillbirth/ Thu, 13 Jan 2022 23:30:43 +0000 https://isbscience.org/?p=135528 An ISB-led study examined the electronic health records of more than 18,000 people with SARS-CoV-2 tests during pregnancy, and found that those who contracted COVID-19 while pregnant were more likely to have poor birth outcomes including preterm birth, small for gestational age, low birth weight, and stillbirth. 

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People who contracted COVID-19 while pregnant were more likely to have poor birth outcomes including preterm birth, small for gestational age, low birth weight, and stillbirth. The poor outcomes of preterm birth and stillbirth were observed primarily with those infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first or second trimester, whereas increased rates of small for gestational age were driven largely by third trimester infection.

An Institute for Systems Biology-led study examined the electronic health records of more than 18,000 people with SARS-CoV-2 tests during pregnancy. Researchers compared outcomes of unvaccinated people with a positive test during pregnancy – 882 in total – to those who tested negative.

“We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection indicated increased rates of preterm delivery and stillbirth, largely driven by first and second trimester infections,” said ISB Postdoctoral Fellow and K. Carole Ellison Fellow Dr. Samantha Piekos, first author of the study. She added: “The single greatest predictor of gestational age at delivery is gestational age at infection, with earlier age at infection associated with earlier age at delivery.”

The people in the study had mild or moderate SARS-CoV-2 infections. Severity of maternal COVID-19 infection was not correlated with gestational age at delivery. Additionally, poor birth outcomes were present even if maternal COVID-19 didn’t result in severe respiratory problems during infection.

Drs. Jennifer Hadlock and Samantha Piekos

ISB Assistant Professor Dr. Jennifer Hadlock, left, and Postdoctoral Fellow and K. Carole Ellison Fellow Dr. Samantha Piekos.

The findings were published today in the journal The Lancet Digital Health and are among the first that account for the trimester of SARS-CoV-2 infection on birth outcomes. 

People in the SARS-CoV-2-positive cohort were more likely to have Hispanic ethnicity, race other than Asian or White, Medicaid insurance, lower age, higher BMI, lower education attainment, and other factors known to be associated with negative birth outcomes. To account for this and to make a true apples-to-apples comparison, researchers used a statistical matching technique that controlled for the confounding variables.

“Pregnant people are at an increased risk of adverse outcomes following SARS-CoV-2 infection, even when maternal COVID-19 is less severe, and they may benefit from increased monitoring following infection,” said Dr. Jennifer Hadlock, corresponding author of the paper and assistant professor at ISB. “Both maternal and fetal health are at increased risk with COVID-19. Therefore, this reinforces the importance of protecting pregnant women,” she added.

The study was conducted before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available in the United States. There is an opportunity for future studies to examine whether vaccination helps to prevent negative birth outcomes in breakthrough cases.

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