Spring 2024 Symposium, Friday May 17 12 – 6:00 pm ET (4 – 10:00 pm UTC)

At PolyBio, our Long COVID Research Consortium & related complex chronic illness projects are moving full speed ahead. We are also conceptualizing and supporting an increasing number of experimental medicine clinical trials, and working directly with MDs and the community to innovate patient care. On Friday May 17 we have planned an online Symposium where PolyBio-supported researchers will present updates on their projects. The program is below.

Amy Proal, PhD

PolyBio Research Foundation

12:00 – 12:10 pm ET (4:00- 4:10 pm UTC)
An overview of PolyBio’s complex chronic illness research & clinical trials program

Dr. Proal will detail PolyBio’s collaborative infrastructure to study and treat infection’s chronic consequences across a wide range of conditions. These include long COVID, ME/CFS and tick-borne/vector-borne illness, but also Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and even human aging.

Petter Brodin, MD, PhD

Karolinska Institutet Sweden

12:10 – 12:20 pm ET (4:10 – 4:20 pm UTC)
Restrained T cell responses and viral persistence in severe long COVID

Dr. Brodin will discuss recent developments in his group’s investigations into immune system regulation and variation among patients with the most severe forms of long COVID. This includes how host genetics may impact T cell responses and SARS-CoV-2 persistence.

Diane Griffin, PhD

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

12:20 – 12:30 pm ET (4:20 – 4:30 pm UTC)
SARS-CoV-2 persistence & long COVID B cell responses

Dr. Griffin will provide updates on a series of experiments to compare numbers of circulating SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody secreting cells, T follicular helper cells, and degree of anti-viral antibody avidity over time in individuals with and without long COVID.

David Price, MD, PhD

Cardiff University United Kingdom

12:30 – 12:40 pm ET (4:30 – 4:40 pm UTC)
Infectious, immune, and microbiome signals in the long COVID lung

Dr. Price will give updates on a collaborative project working to elucidate SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs & related pathology in long COVID lung tissue, fluid, and blood using molecular virology and advanced sequencing.

Morgane Bomsel, PhD

French National Centre for Scientific Research

12:40 – 12:50 pm ET (4:40 – 4:50 pm UTC)
SARS-CoV-2 persistence & impact on long COVID megakaryocytes and platelets

Dr. Bomsel will discuss work to determine if replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 virus persists in long COVID bone marrow-derived cells and platelets. Association with dysregulated energy metabolism & hormonal changes will also be reviewed.

12:50 – 1:00 pm ET (4:50 – 5:00 pm UTC)

Chiara Giannarelli, MD, PhD

NYU School of Medicine

1:00 – 1:10 pm ET (5:00 – 5:10 pm UTC)
Deep characterization of SARS-CoV-2 cardiovascular reservoirs & plaque formation

Dr. Giannarelli will overview a project obtaining tissue samples from patients undergoing heart transplants. Samples are analyzed for multiple abnormalities, with a focus on elucidating the role of macrophages and foam cells as SARS-CoV-2 reservoir sites.

Nicolas Huot, PhD

Institut Pasteur, France

1:10 – 1:20 pm ET (5:10 – 5:20 pm UTC)
SARS-CoV-2 persistence: a focus on natural killer cell & macrophage dynamics

Dr. Huot will describe research utilizing a nonhuman primate model to investigate virus-host interactions and the critical role of innate immunity, particularly natural killer cells, in controlling viral persistence. The study will characterize tissue viral reservoirs and their dynamics, informing long COVID pathogenesis and treatment.

Lael Yonker, MD

Harvard Medical School

1:20 – 1:30 pm ET (5:20 – 5:30 pm UTC)
Long COVID pediatric program update

Dr. Yonker will provide updates on a clinical trial working to determine if the drug larazotide – which repairs epithelial barrier function – can improve symptoms and mitigate blood spike protein leakage in long COVID children.

Maayan Levy, PhD

Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

1:30 – 1:40 pm ET (5:30 – 5:40 pm UTC)
Hormones, microbiome, and long COVID pathogenesis

Dr. Levy will provide updates on work using long COVID stool samples to understand how gut microbiome and metabolites are impacted by SARS-CoV-2 sequences and replication. She will also discuss related changes to hormonal signaling.

Michela Locci, PhD

Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

1:40 – 1:50 pm ET (5:40 – 5:50 pm UTC)
Lymph node immune responses in long COVID

Dr. Locci will detail progress on her team’s work to collect lymph node samples via biopsy from long COVID patients. Advanced methods are used to determine if aberrant germinal center responses are connected to the development of long COVID.

1:50 – 2:00 pm ET (5:50 – 6:00 pm UTC)

Steven Deeks, MD

University of California San Francisco

2 :00 – 2:10 pm ET (6:00 – 6:10 pm UTC)
Updates on LIINC, the Long COVID Tissue Program, and Expansion to Other Post-Acute Infection Syndromes

Dr. Deeks will discuss a program collecting & analyzing multiple tissues including gut, lymph node, cerebrospinal fluid, and bone marrow from long COVID patients. Analysis is focused on measuring tissue-based viral persistence as a driver of long COVID and determining what interventions optimally target viral reservoirs. Early expansion of the program to ME/CFS will also be discussed.

Tim Henrich, MD

University of California San Francisco

2:10 – 2:20 pm ET (6:10 – 6:20 pm UTC)
Molecular imaging in long COVID, plus the promise of immunotherapy clinical trials

Dr. Henrich will give updates on his team’s multimodal PET imaging projects, and will also discuss the rationale for an IL-15 superagonist clinical trial given recent findings of replicating virus in long COVID gut tissue.

Resia Pretorius, PhD

Stellenbosch University

2:20-2:30 pm ET (6:20 – 6:30 pm UTC)
The latest on microclots and platelet pathologies in long COVID and ME/CFS

Dr. Pretorius will delve into the latest developments of novel methods to detect and analyze microclots and hyperactivated platelets in long COVID and ME/CFS.

Gene Tan, PhD

J. Craig Venter Institute

2:30 – 2:40 pm ET (6:30 – 6:40 pm UTC)
Deep Characterization of antiviral immune responses and long COVID pathogenesis

Dr. Tan will discuss progress of a study working to determine if suboptimal antiviral immune activity is associated with SARS-CoV-2 persistence, viral reactivation, and increased gut permeability in long COVID.

Nadia Roan, PhD

University of California San Francisco

2:40 – 2:50 pm ET (6:40 – 6:50 pm UTC)
An overview of long COVID adaptive & inflammatory responses

Dr. Roan will discuss how advanced immunology approaches are being used by her lab to connect dysregulated adaptive immune responses, virus-specific CD8+ T cell exhaustion, and SARS-CoV-2 persistence in long COVID. She will also report on a long COVID mouse model in which CXCR4 is upregulated on T cells and other immune subsets post-acute infection.

2:50 – 3:00 pm ET (6:50 – 7:00 pm UTC)

Mark Painter, PhD

Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

3:00 – 3:10 pm ET (7:00 – 7:10 pm UTC)
T cells as biosensors of viral persistence in Long COVID

Dr. Painter will provide updates on a project that simultaneously identifies virus-specific T cells in blood samples and evaluates if those T cells were recently activated, effectively using the cells as exquisitely sensitive biosensors of persistent viral antigens in tissue. The team has analyzed hundreds of long COVID T cell samples to interrogate underlying disease mechanisms, including SARS-CoV-2 persistence and dysregulated response to herpesviruses.

Esen Sefik, PhD

Yale School of Medicine

3:10 – 3:20 pm ET (7:10 – 7:20 pm UTC)
A humanized mouse model of SARS-COV-2 RNA persistence

Dr. Sefik will describe possible mechanisms and cellular reservoirs of viral RNA persistence in a humanized mouse model of long COVID, including experiments to determine how different therapies eliminate viral RNA in the mice.

Rigel Chan, PhD

UMass Medical School

3:20 – 3:30 pm ET (7:20 – 7:30 pm UTC)
Impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on Alzheimer’s & neurodegenerative disease

Dr. Chan will provide an overview of experiments to determine if live SARS-CoV-2 infection of human brain cell models leads to protein formation and gene changes connected to Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases.

Christopher Dupont, PhD

J. Craig Venter Institute

3:30 – 3:40 pm ET (7:30 – 7:40 pm UTC)
An update on the Tissue Analysis Pipeline: from endometriosis to small fiber neuropathy

Dr. Dupont will provide updates on a multi-method collaborative research pipeline designed to deeply characterize the microbial, viral and immune landscape of tissue samples collected from patients with infection-associated chronic disease.

Victoria Cortes Bastos

Yale School of Medicine

3:40 – 3:50 pm ET (7:40 – 7:50 pm UTC)
ME/CFS blood & cerebrospinal fluid analysis

Dr. Cortesvascos will overview progress on a project investigating cytokines, hormones, markers of tissue remodeling, pathogen antibody reactivity, and autoantibodies in ME/CFS. Cerebrospinal fluid analysis has revealed differential signatures in local damage and neuroinflammation within patients.

3:50 – 4:00 pm ET (7:50 – 8:00 pm UTC)

Michael Peluso, MD

University of California San Francisco

4:00 – 4:10 pm ET (8:00 – 8:10 pm UTC)
Viral reservoir long COVID clinical trials: monoclonal antibodies & beyond

Dr. Peluso will discuss key long COVID reservoir clinical trial considerations. These include considerations related to the therapeutic mechanism of action, participant selection, optimal outcome measures, and standardization of biomarkers.

Marcelo Freire

J. Craig Venter Institute

4:10 – 4:20 pm ET (8:10 – 8:20 pm UTC)
Defining long COVID oral-systemic biomarkers

Dr. Freire will discuss a project working to determine the degree to which the oral cavity can serve as a window into the identification of long COVID immune, clotting, microbiome, and viral persistence biomarkers.

Sara Cherry, PhD

Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

4:20 – 4:30 pm ET (8:20 – 8:30 pm UTC)
Long COVID: Defining the viral RNA reservoir in the gastrointestinal tract

Dr. Cherry will detail progress on a project combining experiments in humans, non-human primates, and mice to identify mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs in the gut contribute to long COVID. Her team is also using organoid models to test antiviral combinations optimal at clearing viral reservoirs.

Zian Tseng, MD

University of California San Francisco

4:30 – 4:40 pm ET (8:30 – 8:40 pm UTC)
The COVID POST SCD (POstmortem Systematic invesTigation of Sudden Cardiac Death) Study

Dr. Tseng will provide an overview of an autopsy study to determine the distribution and burden of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or protein in the tissues of sudden death victims. This will shed light on SARS-CoV-2 persistence in long COVID and in individuals with asymptomatic infection.

David Putrino, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

4:40 – 4:50 pm ET (8:40 – 8:50 pm UTC)
Long COVID & ME/CFS clinical trial and clinical care updates

Dr. Putrino will discuss the design and objectives of clinical trials at Mount Sinai’s CoRE clinic geared at controlling persistent viral activity or coagulation issues. These include trials of therapeutics Truvada, Maraviroc, and the antifibrinolytic enzyme Lumbrokinase.

4:50 – 5:00 pm ET (8:50 – 9:00 pm UTC)

Michael VanElzakker, PhD

Harvard Medical School

5:00 – 5:10 pm ET (9:00 – 9:10 pm UTC)
Long COVID & ME/CFS neuroinflammation and neutrophil function

Dr. VanElzakker will talk about his lab’s ongoing long COVID and ME/CFS research program, including a neuroimaging-centered study of neuroinflammation. Participants also have live (never frozen) blood neutrophils evaluated, along with pupillometry and sleep quality.

Max Qian, PhD

J. Craig Venter Institute

5:10 – 5:20 pm ET (9:10 – 9:20 UTC)
Long COVID endotype identification

Dr. Qian will describe ongoing efforts by his team to use a topic modeling analysis method for long COVID endotyping and apply it to analyze data obtained via the UCSF LIINC cohort. Endotypes can help clarify long COVID patient selection criteria for research and clinical trials

Matthew Frank, PhD

University of Colorado

5:20 – 5:30 pm ET (9:20 – 9:30 UTC)
A multi-inflammatory”hit”model of long COVID

Dr. Frank will give updates on a project working to determine if “multiple hits” (e.g., different viral or bacterial infections) increase the risk of chronic symptom development and central nervous system microglia hyperactivation after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Ed Breitschwerdt, PhD

North Carolina State University

5:30 – 5:40 pm ET (9:30 – 9:40 UTC)
Impact of tick-borne/vector-borne illness on post-COVID symptoms

Dr. Breitchwerst will provide updates on a study using sensitive methods to determine the degree to which patients with long COVID, ME/CFS and hypermobile EDS diagnoses harbor tick-borne/vector-borne pathogens in blood.

Brent Harris, PhD

Georgetown University

5:40 – 5:50 pm ET (9:40 – 9:50 UTC)
Development of long Covid postmortem tissue bank with pathological & molecular analyses

Dr. Harris will describe a pilot study to develop the logistics for rapid autopsy of individuals who are being followed with long COVID in the Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia metropolitan area. Acquired tissue will be examined for SARS CoV-2 viral pathological changes using state-of-the-art molecular techniques.

5:50 – 6:00 pm ET (9:50 – 10:00 pm UTC)
Final remarks Q&A