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Develop an accessible, lab-based method to diagnose microclots in LongCovid patients

PolyBio Research Foundation, Stellenbosch University, Resia Pretorius

Millions suffering from LongCovid don't have access to a regular test for diagnosis. Top researchers develop a widely available method to help explain the condition's debilitating symptoms.

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Project Summary

In 2021, Dr. Pretorius’ team made an important discovery: they identified microclots in blood obtained from patients with LongCovid. These microclots are resistant to the activity of enzymes that normally break down clots in blood. The microclots also contain inflammatory molecules that may be able to damage blood vessels. This could limit normal blood flow to body tissues in a manner that may contribute to a range of LongCovid symptoms.

LongCovid microclots are positioned to become one of the first LongCovid biomarkers. A LongCovid microclot biomarker could significantly improve diagnosis and potential anticoagulant-based treatment for LongCovid patients.

However, there is a challenge: LongCovid microclots cannot be identified by routine testing performed at a doctor’s office. They can only be identified via specialized microscopy methods available in a limited number of research labs. There is consequently an urgent need to develop a new widely-available method for LongCovid microclot identification that can be used in an average pathology lab available to doctors at most large clinical centers.

A very promising way to develop this widely-available method is to use an instrument called a flow cytometer. A flow cytometer helps sort cells in a manner that may be able to isolate and quantify LongCovid microclots. The goal of this campaign is to allow Dr. Pretorius to purchase a new state-of-the-art flow cytometer device. Because Dr. Pretorius has spent decades developing unique methods to identify blood clots in multiple chronic conditions, she is uniquely positioned to utilize flow cytometry technology to develop a more widely available and accessible microclot test.

Project Length1 year
GoalDevelop a flow cytometry method to identify microclots in blood samples from LongCovid patients.
Research TypePreclinical Research
Research Team