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

One study identified 85 proteins linked to severe forms. It was conducted by researchers from the Royal Children’s Hospital of Melbourne, based in particular on blood samples sent by the Paris Necker hospital.

The results of this new study will potentially pave the way for better care of young children with severe Covid-19. In a study published Monday in the journal communications typeAustralian researchers supported by French colleagues indicate that they have identified several proteins present in the blood of children suffering from a severe form of the coronavirus.

The risk of PIMS syndrome

Although they are the least exposed age group to Covid-19, several children have developed severe forms of the disease since March 2020, particularly in France. At the end of January, Public Health France raised the alarm. The organization called for “a very marked 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, of which 849 related to Covid-19”, quoted the National Public Health Agency .

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

85 proteins never seen before

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

The researchers then compared 20 samples from healthy children with those from 34 children who had developed severe Covid-19. Five developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and 29 had PIMS syndrome. Biological samples from sick children were taken from the Necker hospital in Paris in 2020.

“What we were trying to do was to analyze all the proteins in their blood. Many people hear about genomics, which is analyzing all the genes in a human body. We were doing proteomics, which is to look at all the proteins. in the blood, to understand what is happening, “he explained to 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 PIMS syndrome specific proteins and 52 related to acute respiratory distress syndrome have been updated.

An example of international scientific collaboration

These findings could in particular enable more effective treatments to be put in place for children with severe forms of Covid-19.

“This work completes our understanding of severe forms of Covid-19 in children and highlights the pathophysiological mechanisms that could be subject to specific therapies to give children a greater chance of recovery,” details the article published on Monday.

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

“France had the blood samples. In Melbourne we had the equipment needed to carry out proteomics analysis. This type of collaboration is one of the consolation prizes of this pandemic,” explains Conor McCafferty.

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