A year-long Long COVID research clinic at IRCM: Valuable knowledge to understand a complex disease

A year-long Long COVID research clinic at IRCM: Valuable knowledge to understand a complex disease

The IRCM is celebrating the first anniversary of its post-COVID-19 research clinic, whose valuable work is helping to elucidate the symptoms and lasting complications of the disease that plague the lives of a significant proportion of patients who have had COVID-19, while also seeking to identify their causes.

The research clinic was established in February 2021 in response to the health crisis by IRCM Infectious Diseases specialist and Research Unit Director, Dr. Emilia Liana Falcone. Dr. Falcone alongside her multidisciplinary team have since focused on studying the long-term effects of the disease on COVID-19 survivors, with the goal of better supporting those suffering from Long COVID while gaining a better understanding of what causes Long COVID in order to identify new therapeutic targets. 

Some of the most common symptoms of Long COVID include severe fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, headaches, and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. Many patients find their lives put on hold because of these debilitating symptoms.

‘’In one year, we have learned many things. For example, we have a definition of Long COVID, we have a better understanding of the nature and incidence of symptoms and complications," says Dr. Falcone.

She adds that work such as hers has led to a better understanding of the factors that predispose to Long COVID. However, she says, what might cause it remains to be fully understood and is still a major focus for many scientists. Among the hypotheses being explored are immune dysregulation, autoimmunity and the possible involvement of microclots.

Patients enrolled in the research clinic are followed for two years and have access to a series of tests to study the side effects of the disease and detect subsequent abnormalities. 

More work to be done

In addition to studying the effects on patients, the IRCM post-COVID-19 research clinic is establishing a bank of biological samples from survivors to foster collaborations and accelerate work that may address the many questions surrounding the virus. As you can see, the clinic's work is far from over. A large Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)/COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) funded study led by Dr. Falcone is currently underway with the goal of evaluating the role of microbiota and immune dysregulation in long-standing COVID, among other things.

The IRCM Foundation, thanks to corporate donors who are convinced of the importance of finding answers to the questions posed by long term COVID, supports the work of Dr. Falcone and her team.

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