During the pandemic, a primary cause of death for people hospitalized with COVID-19 was acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.
A lack of effective medications has been an ongoing problem, including several clinical trial failures. A team led by Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, M.D., director of the Center for Inflammation Science and Systems Medicine, has found elevated levels of pro-inflammatory proteins called eNAMPT, short for extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase, in ARDS patients’ blood and lung fluid samples. They also found specific eNAMPT mutations significantly associated with either protection from, or higher risk of ARDS, in African American patients.
The research appeared in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease. The work suggests that eNAMPT plasma levels and higher-risk eNAMPT genetic mutation could serve as useful biomarkers to increase the clinical trial success of therapeutics designed to treat ARDS, Garcia said.
“These results may prove useful as we prepare for future pandemics,” he said.