(Medford MA, September 4, 2023) – PolyBio Research Foundation is excited to announce that a position paper written by the Organization’s LongCovid Research Consortium (LCRC) and colleagues was published today in the journal Nature Immunology. The paper – written by 33 scientists and/or clinicians from collaborating academic institutions – is titled “SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in post acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC).” It reviews evidence showing that some patients with PASC (also called Long COVID) may not fully clear the SARS-CoV-2 virus after initial infection. Instead, the virus may persist in patient tissue as a “reservoir” that continues to drive immune dysfunction or other issues. These persistent SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs could be one of the primary drivers of the Long COVID disease process.

More specifically, the paper reviews evidence from dozens of studies that have identified SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, protein, or immune responses indicative of a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in samples collected from Long COVID patients. “It also explains how a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir could contribute to immune, coagulation, neuroimmune abnormalities, microbiome imbalances, autoimmunity, and latent pathogen reactivation in Long COVID” says Dr. Amy Proal, the paper’s first author.

Research priorities and methods to guide the continued study of SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in Long COVID are also described in the paper’s “Supplementary Note.” These include autopsy studies, imaging studies, tissue biopsy studies, ultrasensitive assays to identify viral protein, and use of immune cells as biosensors of persistence. Many of these synergistic methods are already being used in LCRC’s current collaborative research program on SARS-CoV-2 reservoir and related biological factors.

Findings from the Program are being used to identify biomarkers and therapeutic candidates including antivirals and immunomodulators that can be tested in clinical trials to clear a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in Long COVID patients. These clinical trials may require combination therapies in which different antivirals or immunomodulators are used synergistically to achieve maximum efficacy.

Overall, the study of SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in Long COVID may inform the identification of disease mechanisms, biomarkers, and therapeutics for other chronic conditions tied to persistent infection including ME/CFS, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Indeed, several studies are underway by PolyBio Research Foundation teams to better characterize persistent infectious contributions to the ME/CFS disease process.