COVID-19: Comprehensive biomarker analysis for prediction of clinical course and patient treatment outcomes (COVID-BEACONS)
The COVID‑19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. In Canada alone, there are more than 60,000 confirmed cases and more than 5,000 deaths. Despite its global impact, there are no specific therapies. While most patients display mild or no symptoms, a significant number result in severe disease, and sometimes death. We do not know what causes some patients to die from the infection. Developing a test that can identify patients who are at high risk of severe disease would help save lives. Early clinical reports noted that COVID‑19 patients have a high risk of developing blood clots in the body including in the brain and lungs, thus hinting at how it makes people ill. We believe that this likely stems from a severe immune response to being exposed to the virus, SARS-CoV-2. This inappropriate response leads to a vicious cycle of damage to the blood vessels. Therefore, measuring when and how clotting problems develop may allow us to learn how severe COVID‑19 disease progresses, find new treatment targets, and identify the patients that need to be treated earlier to prevent progression. To achieve this, we have assembled a collaborative effort between the largest intensive care hospital networks in Canada with the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TaARI), the largest and most comprehensive Canadian facility dedicated to the study of inflammation and blood clotting diseases. We will measure biomarkers from the biological pathways that control inflammation, blood vessel integrity, blood clotting, and blood clot breakdown. We will then identify which markers can predict disease progression. By understanding which pathways are disrupted over the development of severe COVID‑19 disease, we may be able to identify those patients requiring aggressive therapy earlier in the course of the disease.