RTP company researching why hospitalized patients have different reactions to COVID-19


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina hospitalization have hit record numbers over the last few days. Some of those patients are experiencing worse reactions than others and now a Morrisville-based company will look into why that is.

Scientists have said people who are older or those with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Metabolon is going deeper, looking at what in your body’s chemical composition can make you more vulnerable.

“It’s a tremendously big deal for us,” said Rohan Hastie, chief executive officer for the company.

Metabolon is using their biochemistry expertise to help further understand the body’s reaction to COVID-19.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases selected the company to take part in the study. In a press release, Metabolon said the study is led by researchers at the Precision Vaccines Program (PVP) at Boston Children’s Hospital examining how the human immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“We have a unique role to play in understanding of this disease and helping with better outcomes of the patients ultimately,” said Hastie.

The RTP company will look study biomarkers in 1,000 hospitalized patients nationwide. They want to pinpoint why patients who may be similar in age or health are responding differently. Metabolon believes biomarker may provide the answer.

“This is the largest most definitive study to date to my knowledge to understand in a very large population,” said Dr. Greg Michelotti, scientific director of biology at Metabolon.

Michelotti said data collected from North Carolina patients may show if the lifestyle or diet we have here in the southeast has any impact.

“We’re going to see some really unique and important findings to help understand how people respond and how different regions are responding to the illness,” said Michelotti.

Researchers will collect samples from patients over the course of their hospitalization to study how the body’s reaction changes over time.

What they find may be useful in the development of future vaccines or treatments.

“Not everyone is going to be getting the vaccine, not everyone is going to be responsive to the vaccine so we need to understand better what the course of treatment is for a susceptible profile,” said Michelotti.

Metabolon says there are unique insights you can only learn by looking closely at the biochemistry of patients.

Their work on this may even help attract more talent and investment in the area.

“It raises the profile of what this can do clinically, and raises the profile of what this can do for this company and ultimately the larger RTP area,” said Hastie.

No concrete date yet on when we’ll know the results of this research. The recent increase in hospitalization numbers however is speeding up the number of people enrolled in this study and moving up the timeline for its conclusion.

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