01 June 2020

Hundreds of scientists from 18 countries across the world have pledged to share data on COVID-19 gained from examining people’s blood using mass spectrometry techniques.

The COVID-19 MS Coalition will bring together more than 500 of the world’s leading mass spectrometry experts to study how the immune system responds to the virus, and examine its structure in detail.

Co-ordinated from The University of Manchester, the coalition aims to help refine testing approaches, stratify treatment options, determine isolation requirements, and assist novel drug development programmes – for COVID-19 and future threats.

The coalition will look for biomarkers that determine how an individual will respond to the virus, which will allow hospital labs to predict the outcome of the disease and to target treatment accordingly.

It is hoped that by finding the biological pathways that alter as the disease takes hold, in addition to genetic risk factors, mass spectrometry will provide crucial evidence as to why people respond differently to COVID‑19. Biomarkers revealed by mass spectrometry could also be used in trials to develop effective treatments.

The scientists will also attempt to define the precise structure of the viral spike protein and other viral antigens. They hope to establish which parts of the virus are involved in the interaction with cells, and how this interaction allows the virus to open and drop the infective RNA into the human host.

Professor Perdita Barran, director of the Michael Barber Centre for Collaborative Mass Spectrometry, at The University of Manchester, developed the coalition with colleague Professor Clare Mills. Prof Barran said: “By co-operating in this way, the scientists working in the coalition will have access to many more sources of data from around the world.

“We will be pooling our expertise and we believe we will be able to work much faster and have an impact on a range of priorities; from testing, to treatment and vaccination.”


Source: Struwe W, Emmott E, Bailey M, Sharon M, Sinz A, Corrales FJ, Thalassinos K, Braybrook J, Mills C, Barran P, on behalf of the COVID-19 MS Coalition (2020) “The COVID-19 MS Coalition – accelerating diagnostics, prognostics, and treatment”, The Lancet, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31211-3

 

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