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Older research could bring new insights for COVID-19 long haulers

October 6, 2020

Sleeping man COVID patient

Important COVID-19 research actually commenced years before the discovery of the new coronavirus.

Here’s what we mean:

From 2014 to 2018, researchers led by DePaul University collected blood samples and data from 4,500 healthy college students, as STAT News reports. The researchers have been especially interested in those who would later develop another viral disease, mononucleosis, and subsequently chronic fatigue syndrome, which is sometimes triggered by a viral disease. About 5% of the study group reportedly developed mononucleosis, and about 8% of the mono patients met criteria for chronic fatigue.

Parallels to COVID-19

Understanding the mechanisms behind the development of mono and CFS may well shed light on comparable mechanisms related to developing COVID-19 and “long COVID,” a condition characterized by CFS-like symptoms (problems with energy, memory and concentration) that endure  for weeks and months after the acute COVID-19 infection phase. (In a recent survey cited by the CDC, about 35% of adults interviewed two to three weeks after a positive test result had not returned to their usual state of health.)

“The extensive baseline data and biological materials [the researchers] had gathered from thousands of students created a unique opportunity to investigate risk factors for developing acute and prolonged illness after infection with the novel coronavirus,” writes STAT’s David Tuller.

This type of prospective research, expensive and time-consuming, is complemented by contemporaneous research into COVID-19, including some conducted by long-haulers themselves who have surveyed fellow patients.

Human biospecimens yield critical information

Research like DePaul’s prospective investigation is made possible by large-scale collection of blood samples and deidentified patent data, a process that iSpecimen manages for research organizations around the world.

Researchers can specify blood – or other human biospecimen samples – from patients having a range of characteristics, including a specific age range, gender, ethnicity, race, diagnosis, medication, medical procedure, test result and more. ISpecimen is also contributing to COVID-19 research, providing biospecimen samples to the CDC and others.

Specimens yield data, and data drives knowledge. And knowledge leads to treatments, cures and vaccines.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified human tissue and biofluid biospecimens, in addition to hematopoietic and immune cell products and COVID-19 samples. You can join for free and creating a login is easy. Request a quote or custom collection today.