Researchers with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences have identified a potential cause of long-lasting symptoms experienced by COVID-19 patients, often referred to as long-haulers.
A press release stated that the team found an antibody that shows up weeks after the initial infection. The antibody reportedly attacks a key regulator of the immune system.
“Everything that we’ve found is consistent with this antibody as the instigator of long COVID, so it’s an exciting development that merits further study,” lead researcher Dr. John Arthur said.
Researchers tested plasma or serum for the antibody in 67 patients with a known COVID-19 infection and 13 with no history of infection, according to the researchers. In 81% of blood samples from patients in Arkansas and Oklahoma with a history of COVID-19, the samples had the antibody. In participants with no history of COVID-19, no antibodies were created.
“If our next steps confirm that this antibody is the cause of long COVID symptoms, there are medications that should work to treat them,” Arthur said. “If we get to that phase of research, the next step would be to test these drugs and hopefully relieve people of the symptoms they’re having.”