‘Vital work’ into overcoming Covid taking place in Cork

Prof O’Toole said that the study adds another piece to the jigsaw puzzle that is Covid-19 research and that the results have provided a range of defined targets for interventions.
‘Vital work’ into overcoming Covid taking place in Cork

Profs Liam O’Mahony and Paul O’Toole, both Principal Investigators at APC Microbiome Ireland, SFI Research Centre and Professors at University College Cork have co-authored a new international research paper which adds another piece to the jigsaw puzzle that is COVID-19 research.

A new study by APC Microbiome Ireland, SFI Research Centre at University College Cork (UCC) has suggested that microbiota, metabolism and immune system communication are key to overcoming Covid-19.

The large international study of hospitalised Covid-19 patients suggested that the outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection depends in part on the types of interactions occurring between the patients’ microbiota, metabolism and the immune system.

In this well-controlled study of 172 hospitalised Covid-19 patients from Cork, Geneva, St. Gallen and Ticino, APC scientists demonstrated that hyperinflammatory responses and metabolic dysfunction were exaggerated in patients with a specific type of microbiota, and these patients were less likely to survive infection with SARS-CoV-2.

The research findings could mean that high-risk patients could be identified earlier through microbiome profiling, and could be afforded greater protection from severe Covid-19 symptoms by boosting their immune system with appropriately selected probiotics and/or prebiotics.

The paper ‘A high-risk gut microbiota configuration associates with fatal hyperinflammatory immune and metabolic responses to SARS-CoV-2’ is published in the journal Gut Microbes and is co-lead-authored by Liam O’Mahony and Paul O’Toole, both professors in UCC. The research was supported by the SFI Covid-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation Funding.

Prof O’Mahony said: “This study further demonstrates that the microbes within us are intimately connected with immune and metabolic health. We now need to investigate how to positively influence these connections before a person becomes infected to help reduce risk of severe outcomes to infection.”

Prof O’Toole said that the study adds another piece to the jigsaw puzzle that is Covid-19 research and that the results have provided a range of defined targets for interventions.

Vice president for research and innovation at UCC, Prof John Cryan, said: “This study has great significance in the progress to provide solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Vital work is taking place at APC laboratories here in UCC and it’s making a real difference to understanding how to overcome SARS-CoV-2.”

The findings have been welcomed by the general director of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Philip Nolan.

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