why do some children have severe forms? A study opens a first track

One study identified 85 proteins associated with severe forms. It was conducted by researchers at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, mainly based on blood samples sent from Paris Necker Hospital.

The results of this new study may pave the way for better care for young children affected by severe Covid-19. In a study published Monday in the journal: type of communicationAustralian researchers supported by French colleagues say they have identified several proteins present in the blood of children affected by a severe form of the 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, especially in France. At the end of January, Public Health France sounded the alarm. The organization signaled “a very sharp increase in the number of PIMS cases” among the youngest “during the first three weeks of 2022”.

“Between March 2, 2020 and January 23, 2022, 932 cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndromes (PIMS or MIS-C) were reported to Public Health France, including 849 related to Covid-19,” the National Public Health Office said.

Of the young French people affected by this syndrome, 39% had to undergo intensive care, and a 9-year-old child died in Marseille in May 2020. Symptoms of this severe form of Covid, in addition to a negative test, are characterized by a skin rash, signs of myocardial dysfunction or acute gastrointestinal disturbances.

85 never-before-seen proteins

How to explain the development of these severe forms in a minority of children? This is the question the Australian study unveiled Monday is trying to answer. Conducted by researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, affiliated with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, it is based on 54 biological samples from children.

For example, the researchers compared 20 samples from healthy children with those from 34 children who had developed a severe form of Covid-19. Five developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and 29 suffered from PIMS syndrome. Biological samples of sick children were taken from Necker Hospital in Paris in 2020.

“What we tried to do was analyze all the proteins in their blood. A lot of people hear about genomics, which is to analyze all the genes in a human body. We did proteomics, which is to look at all the proteins in the human body. to understand what’s going on,” explained to the Guardian Conor McCafferty, a hematology researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The study found 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 for acute respiratory distress syndrome were updated.

An example of international scientific cooperation

In particular, these discoveries 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 may be the subject of specific therapies to give children a greater chance of recovery,” the article published this Monday describes.

In addition to lifting some of the veil on the origin of severe forms in children, this study illustrates the necessary international cooperation to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.

“France had the blood samples. In Melbourne we had the necessary equipment to do the proteomic analysis. This kind of collaboration is one of the consolation prizes of this pandemic,” explains Conor McCafferty.

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