A group of Portuguese researchers has just received 50 thousand euros to study whether the severity of COVID-19 in individuals infected with the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) is related to the intestinal microbiota.
The project is entitled “Gut Microbiota, Spark and Flame of COVID-19” and is led by Conceição Calhau, a researcher at CINTESIS – Center for Health Technology and Services Research and professor at the NOVA Medical School-Faculty of Medical Sciences.
This group of scientists states “the hypothesis that people from risk groups already identified have weaknesses in the intestinal microbiota in common”. This may be one of the reasons that link the condition of chronic disease to infection.
According to Conceição Calhau, “the intestinal microbiota plays a determining role in immunity, so the profile of bacteria present in the intestine can condition a greater vulnerability to the severity of the disease”.
The team includes several researchers from CINTESIS and the NOVA Medical School, as well as the researcher from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP) Cristina Granja, who will be responsible for the study at this institution.
The study will include participants over the age of 18, who will be recruited in various health units in the country, namely the Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João (CHUSJ), the Hospital São Francisco Xavier, the Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Ocidental, Hospital Cuf Infante Santo, the Curry Cabral Hospital, the São Sebastião Hospital, and the Santa Maria da Feira, the Cuf Academy and the Germano de Sousa Laboratory Medicine Center.
The results should support and encourage the development of new intervention strategies, as will be the case with prebiotics and/or probiotics.
The funding was provided by Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), within the scope of RESEARCH4COVID19 (30 thousand euros) and by Biocodex (20 thousand euros).