Low levels of blood protein renalase predict poor outcomes in patients with COVID-19, Yale researchers report. They plan to seek expedited approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine whether the protein, which fights inflammation, could improve outcomes for patients with severe cases of the disease.
“We want to determine if administering protein renalase agonists to patients can improve outcomes, ” said the lead author. Gary Desire, Paul B. Beeson professor of medicine, vice-president for faculty development and diversity, and president of internal medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.
Desir and his colleagues measured renalase levels in 51 patients with COVID-19 at Yale New Haven Hospital and 15 uninfected subjects. They found that the 14 patients with the lowest levels of renalase had the most severe symptoms and were more likely to die than those with higher levels of blood protein.
The study was published on the pre-print server MedRxiv and has not been peer reviewed.
Desir’s lab had previously explored the use of the anti-inflammatory properties of renalase to treat acute kidney damage and acute pancreatitis. Désir hypothesized that renalase may help reduce the damaging immune system response associated with severe cases of late-stage COVID-19.
Yale has licensed a therapeutic version of renalase to Bessor Pharma. Desir owns a stake in Bessor and its subsidiary Personal Therapeutics.
The study was primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health.