(Washington DC – June 30, 2023) – The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently held the workshop “Toward a Common Research Agenda in Infection – Associated Chronic Illnesses: A Workshop to Examine Common, Overlapping Clinical and Biological Factors.” The event – which was held at NASEM’s Keck Center building in Washington DC – featured presentations from multiple PolyBio Research Foundation-supported scientists, including members of PolyBio’s LongCovid Research Consortium. The presentations detailed research underway by these scientists and their teams to study root cause drivers of symptoms in patients with Long COVID, ME/CFS, and LongLyme disease – three of the infection-associated chronic conditions most discussed at the Workshop. The Workshop was partly sponsored by the Steve & Alexandra Cohen Foundation – one of PolyBio’s collaborators innovating the study of tissue samples from patients with infection-associated chronic disease.
LCRC’s Dr. Tim Henrich from UCSF kicked off the meeting with a Keynote presentation that explained how his team has iterated their site’s HIV research and therapeutic infrastructure into the study of SARS-CoV-2 activity in Long COVID. Dr. Alessio Fasano from Harvard Medical School described the design of a PolyBio-supported clinical trial geared at improving SARS-CoV-2-driven gut barrier permeability in LongCovid children. Dr. Resia Pretorius from LCRC explained how her team is studying bacterial biofilm contributions to clotting processes in Long COVID and ME/CFS. A central theme of these and related presentations was the importance of understanding how proteins created by different pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, the herpesviruses, or Borrelia burgdorferi can drive common mechanisms of disease.
Discussion of therapeutics and clinical trials in the infection-associated chronic disease space were a central focus of the Workshop’s Day 2 presentations. LCRC’s Dr. Sara Cherry from UPenn described research suggesting that combination therapies of antivirals and other drugs may be necessary for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in Long COVID. The need for combination therapies of antibiotics in the treatment of LongLyme disease was further discussed by Dr. Monica Embers from Tulane University. LCRC’s Dr. Steven Deeks from UCSF detailed important considerations for the design and implementation of clinical trials in patients with Long COVID and related conditions. Dr. David Putrino from Mt. Sinai – also an LCRC member – explained how a personalized medicine approach that incorporates patient-reported feedback is critical to optimal infection-associated chronic disease treatment.
The Workshop ended with a session in which PolyBio’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Amy Proal delineated central pillars of PolyBio Research Foundation’s research program on infection-associated chronic disease. These include open collaboration between research teams, the use of cutting-edge sequencing technologies, autopsy or biopsy studies to better characterize pathogen activity in tissue, and a focus on innovating high-resolution imaging studies. Overall the Workshop ended on a very positive note with great energy among participants to continue close collaboration. Presentations from the Workshop can be viewed here.