Risk of serious COVID-19 infection can now be predicted

November 30, 2023

Researchers have developed a method for assessing the number and structure of aggregated blood platelets (or thrombocytes) that can potentially help quantify the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection. As a result, they have identified a predictive biomarker for the seriousness of a COVID-19 infection. The researchers used a method from image-based flow cytometry that permits the rapid analysis of interactions between large numbers of blood cells. One of them involves platelets, also known as thrombocytes, sticking to immune cells to form clumps, or aggregates, of cells in the bloodstream. This enabled them to identify a biomarker for predicting the risk of severe illness in COVID-19 patients.

Researchers have developed a method for assessing the number and structure of aggregated blood platelets (or thrombocytes) that can potentially help quantify the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection. As a result, they have identified a predictive biomarker for the seriousness of a COVID-19 infection. This will allow physicians to adjust treatment at an early stage. The researchers used a method from image-based flow cytometry that permits the rapid analysis of interactions between large numbers of blood cells.

When infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the human body produces a series of immune responses. One of them involves platelets, also known as thrombocytes, sticking to immune cells to form clumps, or aggregates, of cells in the bloodstream. In a study using image-based flow cytometry, a team of researchers working with Oliver Hayden, a professor of biomedical electronics, demonstrated a rapid rise in concentrations of platelet aggregates in patients admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 infections.

This enabled them to identify a biomarker for predicting the risk of severe illness in COVID-19 patients. The result was made possible by the optimal interdisciplinary conditions offered by the central TranslaTUM institute to TUM engineers for collaboration with medical researchers at Klinikum München rechts der Isar.