One study identified 85 proteins associated with severe forms. It was performed by researchers at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, mainly based on blood samples sent by the Paris Necker Hospital.
The results of this new study will potentially pave the way for better care for young children affected by a severe form of Covid-19. In a study published Monday in the journal type of communicationAustralian researchers, supported by French colleagues, state that they have identified several proteins present in the blood of children affected by a severe form of coronavirus.
The risk of PIMS syndrome
Although they are the age group least exposed to Covid-19, several children have developed severe forms of the disease since March 2020, particularly in France. In late January, Public Health France also sounded the alarm. The organization elicited “a very marked increase in the number of cases of PIMS” among the youngest “during the first three weeks of 2022”.
“Between 2 March 2020 and 23 January 2022, 932 cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndromes (PIMS or MIS-C) were reported to Public Health France, including 849 related to Covid-19”, mentioned to the National Public Health Agency.
Among young French people affected by this syndrome, 39% had to undergo intensive treatment and a 9-year-old child died in May 2020 in Marseille. Symptoms of this severe form of Covid are in addition to a negative test characterized by rash, signs of myocardial dysfunction or acute gastrointestinal disorders.
85 never before seen proteins
How to explain the development of these severe forms in a minority of children? That is the question that the Australian study revealed on Monday is trying to answer. Performed by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, attached to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, it is based on 54 biological samples from children.
The researchers thus compared 20 samples from healthy children with those from 34 children who had developed a severe form of Covid-19. Five had developed an acute respiratory distress syndrome and 29 had suffered from PIMS syndrome. The biological samples from the sick children were taken from Necker Hospital in Paris in 2020.
“What we were trying to do was analyze all the proteins in their blood. Many people hear about genomics, which is to analyze all the genes in a human body. We made proteomics, which is to look at all the proteins in blood, to understand what is going on “, explained Guardian Conor McCafferty, hematology researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
The study showed that children who developed a severe form of the virus had specific proteins in their blood that were not found in non-sick children. A total of 85 proteins specific for PIMS syndrome and 52 related to acute respiratory distress syndrome were updated.
An example of international scientific cooperation
In particular, these findings could make it possible to introduce more effective treatments for children suffering from severe forms of Covid-19.
“This work completes our understanding of the severe forms of Covid-19 in children and highlights physiopathological mechanisms that could be the subject of specific therapies to give children a greater chance of cure,” the published article details this Monday.
In addition to shedding some light on the origins of severe forms in children, this study illustrates the international cooperation needed to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
“France had the blood tests. In Melbourne, we had the necessary equipment to perform the proteomic analysis. This type of collaboration is one of the consolation prizes for this pandemic,” explains Conor McCafferty.