News Release 

Transferrin identified as potential contributor to COVID-19 severity

The University of Kent's School of Biosciences and the Institute of Medical Virology at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, have identified that a glycoprotein known as transferrin may critically contribute to severe forms of COVID-19

University of Kent

The University of Kent's School of Biosciences and the Institute of Medical Virology at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, have identified that a glycoprotein known as transferrin may critically contribute to severe forms of COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It is currently not known why some individuals develop only mild or no symptoms when infected, whilst others experience severe, life-threatening forms of the disease. However, it is known that the risk of COVID-19 becoming severe increases with age and is higher in males than in females. Many severe COVID-19 cases are characterised by increased blood clotting and thrombosis formation.

The team combined existing data on gene expression in humans and infected cells to search for molecules involved in blood coagulation that differ between females and males, change with age, and are regulated in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Out of more than 200 candidate factors, researchers identified a glycoprotein called transferrin to be a procoagulant (a cause of blood clotting) that increases with age, is higher in males than in females, and is higher in SARS-CoV-2-infected cells. Hence, transferrin may have potential as a biomarker for the early identification of COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe disease.

Katie-May McLaughlin, the first author of the study said: 'It is very exciting to be involved in such an important study that may improve therapies for COVID-19 in its most severe form'.

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The study 'COVID-19-related coagulopathy - Is transferrin a missing link?' was published in the scientific journal Diagnostics.

The papers' authors were:

University of Kent's School of Biosciences
Katie-May McLaughlin, Stuart Masterson, Dr Mark Wass, Professor Martin Michaelis.

Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute of Medical Virology
Marco Bechtel, Denisa Bojkova, Professor Sandra Ciesek, Professor Jindrich Cinatl.

For further information or interview requests, please contact Sam Wood at the University of Kent Press Office.

Tel: 01227 823581
Email: s.wood-700@kent.ac.uk

News releases can also be found at http://www.kent.ac.uk/news
University of Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/UniKent

Notes to Editors

The University of Kent is a leading UK university producing world-class research, rated internationally excellent and leading the way in many fields of study. Our 20,000 students are based at campuses and centres in Canterbury, Medway, Brussels, Paris, and Tonbridge.

With 97% of our research judged to be of international quality in the most recent Research Assessment Framework (REF2014), our students study with some of the most influential thinkers in the world. Universities UK recently named research from the University as one of the UK's 100 Best Breakthroughs of the last century for its significant impact on people's everyday lives.

We are renowned for our inspirational teaching. Awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), we were presented with the Outstanding Support for Students award at the 2018 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards for the second year running.

Our graduates are equipped for a successful future allowing them to compete effectively in the global job market. More than 95% of graduates find a job or study opportunity within six months.

Known as the 'UK's European university', our international outlook is a major focus and we believe in our students developing a global perspective. Many of our courses provide opportunities to study or work abroad; we have partnerships with more than 400 universities worldwide and are the only UK university to have postgraduate centres in Athens, Brussels, Paris and Rome.

The University is a truly international community with over 40% of our academics coming from outside the UK and our students representing over 150 nationalities.

We are a major economic force in south east England, supporting innovation and enterprise. We are worth £0.9 billion to the economy of the south east and support more than 9,400 jobs in the region.

In March 2018, the Government and Health Education England (HEE) announced that the joint bid by the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University for funded places to establish a medical school has been successful. The first intake of undergraduates to the Kent and Medway Medical School will be in September 2020.

We are proud to be part of Canterbury, Medway and the county of Kent and, through collaboration with partners, work to ensure our global ambitions have a positive impact on the region's academic, cultural, social and economic landscape.

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