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Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS) Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Fibromyalgia Leading Research. Delivering Hope.Open Medicine Foundation® Canada

COVID to Long COVID to ME/CFS

In March 2020, OMF launched an international, multi-year study across the six OMF supported Collaborative Research Centers (CRC).  This was the first study of its kind and the aim is to examine the progression from COVID to Long COVID and the eventual progression to ME/CFS. 

  • Jonas Bergquist, MD, PhD
  • Wenzhong Xiao, PhD
  • Alain Moreau, PhD
  • Ronald W. Davis, PhD
  • Chris Armstrong, PhD
  • David Systrom, MD
STUDY HYPOTHESIS AND DESCRIPTION

In March 2020, OMF brought together its global collaborative network, across 6 research centers in 4 countries, to carry out this global effort in several stages, using an initial $1,000,000 grant donated specifically for this effort. We are actively working to raise additional funding to continue this critical study.

Researchers are testing and analyzing data from individuals from the point of early COVID-19 illness through their recovery or prolonged illness state. This study has an opportunity to reveal what causes one to fully recover versus those at high risk of developing Long COVID and of those, the development of ME/CFS.

Illustration of different post-covid trajectories

This data is also being compared to the OMF-Funded Post-Viral Complications in Herpes Simplex Encephalopathy (HSE) study data to provide another post-viral contrast. This study design offers the chance to elucidate precise pathological mechanisms of Long COVID, ME/CFS and other post-viral illnesses, identify potential diagnostic biomarkers and validate potential treatment targets for future clinical trials. 

OBJECTIVES

Hand pointing at graph on monitor

  • Collect data throughout the longitudinal study
  • Identify markers in the gene expression that are predictive of lengthy recovery or prolonged illness
  • Analyze inflammation markers in blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid
  • Analyze metabolomics through urine and blood plasma samples
  • Collate the array of biological data collected to determine early predictive markers of ME/CFS after a significant viral trigger.
  • Conduct a study of the global circulating microRNA expression profiles.
  • Perform global DNA methylation profiling.
  • Conduct epigenome-wide association analysis
UPDATES AND POTENTIAL

Updates from Phase 1

  • All initial post COVID omics studies (nucleic acids, proteins and metabolites in CSF and blood of COVID patients, and HSE) have been undertaken with datasets received from Uppsala, Harvard and Stanford.
  • Computational analysis of all data sets is underway and will be published when final.
  • Longitudinal sample collection will continue along with further analyses.

 

Updates from the Long Covid Clinic at Uppsala

  • A large cohort of patients currently report with post-COVID complications and two new clinics for seeing these patients have been opened in Uppsala.
  • 1500+ patients with initially less severe COVID but with severe sequelae and post-COVID complications are enrolled with surveys, plasma and blood
  • Surveys have been performed and first paper is submitted and under revision. 
  • Additional IRB has been filed to allow for blood sampling and RNA, proteomics and metabolomics and has now been approved.
  • Next Steps: RNA (in Ficoll isolated blood cells), Proteomics and Metabolomics (plasma) will be analyzed.
  • Clinical data are continuously compiled and will be sent to Computation Center for correlation with biomarkers.
  • First set of CSF samples from post-covid patients analyzed.

Latest Updates from Montreal

  • Development of an algorithm using our 11 microRNA diagnostic panel allowing the stratification of long COVID patients along different long-term sequelae trajectories:
    • ME, ME+FM or FM
    • Severe respiratory dysfunction
    • Neurological
    • Allergy-related 
  • BrainCheck neurocognitive evaluations prior and after the induction of PEM led us to stratify long COVID patients into four clusters using a machine-learning method.
  • Patients classified in cluster A and B exhibit a neurocognitive profile often seen in ME/CFS patients while long COVID patients in cluster C and D exhibit more often neurological sequelae.
  • Preliminary findings suggest that long COVID patients in cluster B exhibit a better recovery of their neurocognitive function than those in cluster A or C
  • Next Steps: Validate these findings in a larger cohort.

Latest Updates from the Computation Center

  • COVID study underway with omics data (nucleic acids, proteins, and metabolites in blood) and associated ICU clinical information received from Uppsala and Stanford. Data on the long-term outcomes of the patients will be received. 
  • Sequence analysis of viral RNA and DNA revealed EBV and HHV6 reactivations in ICU COVID patients.
  • Computational analysis identified early metabolites associated with patient outcomes in ICU.
  • Analysis of proteins in CSF of ICU patients, ME/CFS patients, and controls identified unique patterns in each group.
  • Further analysis will correlate omics patterns with long COVID.