Post COVID hyperinflammation: A syndrome beyond the name
COVID‑19 can threaten the live of previously healthy children. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) develops weeks after a mild or even asymptomatic COVID‑19 infection. Each wave of infections is closely followed by a wave of children across Canada and around the world presenting to hospital in shock and heart failure due to MIS-C, an uncontrolled post-COVID-19 inflammation. MIS-C closely resembles Kawasaki Disease (KD). KD causes fever and inflammation of blood vessels, most importantly the coronary arteries feeding the heart. Similar to KD, one in four children with MIS-C develops coronary artery disease. It is critical to enable health care teams to rapidly identify high-risk children with MIS-C and control the life-threatening inflammation before it damages the child’s heart. Our team has studied and dissected the reasons responsible for inflammation leading to shock and hyperinflammation in KD and have identified key biomarkers and optimal targets for treatment. These have been rapidly translated to the bedside resulting in new medications and improved outcomes. We urgently need to transfer these lessons to children with MIS-C and provide the desperately needed evidence to guide development of effective therapeutic approaches. Our team includes doctors, scientists, and families working together to tackle this serious disease. We will use machine learning and artificial intelligence strategies to analyze and integrate complex biologic and clinical data, in order to rapidly diagnose MIS-C and identify the children at highest risk. We’ve successfully done this before in other diseases. We already have a strong and deeply committed Canada-wide team, expertise and infrastructure in place from our other successful projects and national networks. We have international partner networks across Europe and the USA to share our discoveries most efficient and save the lives and protect the hearts of affected children around the world.