Your metabolism takes the food you eat and breaks it down into energy to keep you, your organs, and your cells alive. It breaks bigger chemicals into smaller and smaller pieces and produces metabolites such as lactic acid or certain amino acids as one of the final end products. Those metabolites can be found in your blood and in your urine and can indicate how well your body is functioning. For instance, metabolomic imbalances can indicate the presence of kidney disease.
A team of researchers from the University of Alberta, Lawson Health Research Institute, and Western University are taking that basic knowledge and applying it to COVID-19. They have identified several biomarkers that indicate the presence of COVID-19 and the potential severity of the disease in patients. Early research finding have also identified metabolites depleted by the virus and hope to show that those metabolites could be replaced as part of a therapeutic treatment
There is still more work to be done but early indications are promising.
Dr. David Wishart (pictured at left) is founder of the The Metabolomics Innovation Centre
at the University of Alberta. He is also a professor at the University of Alberta and we have been pleased to fund some of his projects over the years. As part of the team working on the COVID-19 biomarkers he hopes to move through to a validation study and eventually develop a simple metabolite test for the disease.
He spoke with freelance broadcaster Don Hill.