Hematologists’ crucial contribution to Covid-19 treatment and research

Latest research seek to identify patients most vulnerable to severe Covid illness, develop off-the-shelf treatments to enhance immune responses


HematologyHematologists play a key role as those suffering blood disorders and underlying immune deficiencies are at increased risk of getting infected by Covid-19.

Moreover, multiple immunotherapies, chemotherapies and stem cell transplants used to treat these diseases further suppress the immune system.

Also, it has been established that Covid-19 infection can trigger clots and other hematologic complications in some persons.

The worldwide hematology community continues to leverage knowledge, specialised labs and treatments to help predict high-risk groups and improve treatment options.

ASH continued to be committed to sharing the latest Covid resources to guide not only hematologists but all those on the front lines of Covid patient care. Included among the resources is the ASH Covid-19 Research Agenda, which includes key questions that experts in hematology and blood research deem of critical importance to physicians, researchers and patients.

Three studies presented during the 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition offer glimpses into the complexities of Covid-19 infection, who is at greatest risk of severe illness and complications, and a potential off-the-shelf T-cell-based treatment.

According to press briefing moderator Alisa Wolberg, PhD, of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “Taken together, these studies show the multiple approaches that are being pursued to try to understand the risks to these patients and what role genetics may play, as well as applying our knowledge of how T cells work to help create therapies that enable stronger immune responses to Covid-19 infection.”

Alisa added: “Information to help us predict who will have a severe disease course versus who most likely won’t has huge implications for understanding the basic biology of this disease and to risk stratify patients for treatments.”

The first of the three studies throws light on which individuals with blood cancers are most vulnerable to severe illness and death based on an ongoing global public reference tool from the ASH Research Collaborative offering real-time data summaries to help guide treatment approaches.

Second study
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On the other hand, the second study detected the presence of several harmful genetic variants in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 that may be associated with increased susceptibility to severe Covid-19 illness.

As far as the third study is concerned, researchers were able to build banks of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells obtained from people who recovered from the virus that are now being studied for potential curative effects in hospitalised patients.

Our collective knowledge of this virus is rapidly evolving, said Dr Alisa and added that and it’s critically important for them to uncover why some people have such serious illness and complications and others do not.

(With inputs from The OnLook News Research Bureau)

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