McMillan Research has proposed a well-received theory that autoimmune antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, ACE-2, mediate the multiorgan dysfunction suffered by COVID-19 “long-haulers”. Here we propose to identify the specific autoimmune antibodies responsible for organ dysfunction, develop a rapid, easy test to quantitate them and thereafter, to develop effective strategies to neutralize them in patients at risk of developing protracted disease.
Our research strongly suggests that antibodies of a specific subtype, made in a specific area of the body, are the most likely targets causing “long-hauler” disease in COVID-19. The first goal of this project is to demonstrate that these specific antibodies exist in clinical samples obtained from patients suffering severe, protracted disease. This phase of the project will involve discovery research and significant verification. Once identified, experts in assay development will be recruited to help design a relatively simple, cost-effective assay to quantitate these antibodies in a wide variety of patients ranging from mild to severe, short-term to long-haul. Data from these many patients will help to confirm our overall theory and in addition, identify high-risk groups on which to focus.
The third phase of the project will be collaboration with therapeutics development firms, skilled in the art of antibody design, to construct “designer neutralizers” that render the autoimmune antibodies harmless. Thereafter, collaborators poised to conduct clinical trials will begin assessing the effectiveness of these therapeutics in high-risk patient subgroups.