San Diego/ Health & Lifestyle
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 09, 2024
UC San Diego and University of Leeds Researchers Identify New COVID-related Syndrome, MIP-CSource: Flickr / Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, collaborating with the University of Leeds in the U.K., have uncovered a harrowing new COVID-related syndrome termed MIP-C after conducting an international investigation. According to a report from UC San Diego's news administrators, the condition features severe lung scarring conjoined with diseases of an autoimmune variety, notably the rare MDA5 autoimmune disease.

Working alongside UC San Diego's Dr. Pradipta Ghosh, Leeds' Dr. Dennis McGonagle approached with a mysterious find of vaccinated patients displaying severe symptoms not typically associated with mild COVID cases. These included rashes, arthritis, and muscle pain, all symptoms often seen with interstitial lung disease, as he conveyed in an email. The duo’s research recently culminated in a published paper in eBioMedicine.

In the throes of the outbreak, McGonagle's lab noticed an alarming incidence of autoantibodies to MDA5 in patients. These antibodies target an enzyme intrinsic to the body's defense mechanism against RNA viruses, including the coronavirus. Alongside the UC San Diego team, equipped with BoNE, a cutting-edge computational tool, they confirmed the presence of these autoantibodies. They found troubling links to interstitial lung disease in some patients studied.

"But this was different," Ghosh said, noting the peculiarly aggressive nature of the condition. As reported by UC San Diego, eight of the 25 patients with lung scarring died due to progressive fibrosis. The BoNE analysis pinpointed the perilous roles of the MDA5 autoantibody and the immune signaling molecule interleukin-15 in the condition's progression.

The collaborative effort, harnessing the vast patient databases within the U.K.'s National Health Service, made it seamless to comb through large amounts of data, thus facilitating the probe. Further, Ghosh believes that this syndrome is not just a local phenomenon. With MIP-C cases cropping up globally, identifying interleukin-15 as a key factor could be the beacon for new treatments.

The findings have substantial backing, with support from the National Institute for Health Research, the National Institutes of Health, and additional funds from the University of California Office of the President Research Grants Program Office and the American Association of Immunologists. UC San Diego also noted the instrumental contributions of their diverse research team, including Saptarshi Sinha, Ph.D., and a coterie of developing scientists and medical researchers.