FORT LAUDERDALE – Many studies have found that some COVID-19 symptoms can persist months after patients are initially infected with the virus, a condition that’s come to be known as “Long COVID.”
Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, PhD, assistant professor in The Wistar Institute Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center in Philadelphia, has found that severe COVID-19 is associated with the passage of bacteria and bacterial products from the gut to the blood (gut-leakiness), which also is a major cause of chronic inflammation experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Campbell Foundation, a Fort Lauderdale-based nonprofit dedicated to funding HIV/AIDS research, has awarded Dr. Abdel-Mohsen an $80,000 grant to study whether gut leakiness increases the risk and severity of Long COVID-19 in people living with HIV/AIDS.
“So far, there is no data indicating that people living with HIV/AIDS are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. However, the pre-existing state of ‘gut leakiness’ and chronic inflammation in this population raises the question of whether they may be more prone to Long COVID,” says Abdel-Mohsen.
It’s already been determined that Long COVID-19 impacts anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of those who survive the virus. It’s also known that risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease play a role in the severity of COVID-19. Dr. Abdel-Mohsen’s research may allow for the development of improved preventive care and treatments.
“Many members of our Peer Review Board were intrigued by Dr. Abdel-Mohsen’s hypothesis calling it ‘novel’ and ‘unique’,” says The Campbell Foundation’s Executive Director Ken Rapkin. “Our foundation’s mission has always been to provide seed funding to alternative, non-traditional avenues of research that have direct clinical impact/relevancy to the HIV care/research community. This study dovetails precisely with our stated mission.”
In 2018, Dr. Abdel-Mohsen received a $100,000 grant from The Campbell Foundation to study the role of altered host glycosylation (the process of adding sugar molecules to proteins and its effect on immune function), in the development of HIV-associated comorbidities, specifically those related to inflammation, such as heart disease and dementia. His lab at The Wistar Institute has multiple research projects that aim to design novel immunotherapeutic approaches to treat infectious diseases, with an emphasis on HIV infection.
About The Campbell Foundation
The Campbell Foundation was established in 1995 by the late Richard Campbell Zahn as a private, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting clinical, laboratory-based research into the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. It focuses its funding on supporting alternative, nontraditional avenues of research. In its 26th year, the Campbell Foundation has given away more than $11.5 million, with about $1.2 million going to direct services.
About The Wistar Institute
The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer, immunology, infectious disease research, and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. wistar.org.