Our Work

Research Priorities

The Long Covid Research Initiative has developed a comprehensive research program with the goal not only to understand if Long Covid patients still harbor the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but to determine what exactly the virus is doing to drive chronic disease. We will identify the virus’s effects on the immune system, and its impact on a wide range of processes such as blood clotting, nerve signaling, and cognitive function. 

The LCRI Research Program

The LCRI Research Program contains studies spanning the following topics:

  1. Tissue biopsy studies: designed to identify SARS-CoV-2, its proteins, and related changes to the immune and genetic landscape in intestinal, lung, lymph node, and other tissue samples collected from Long Covid patients.  
  2. Autopsy and imaging studies: designed to reveal the deep-tissue locations of SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs and ongoing antiviral T cell activity throughout the body and brain.
  3. Blood-based biomarker studies: designed to capture key metrics in blood such as spike protein or immune cell patterns that can infer the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tissue, making diagnosis easier outside of research labs.
  4. Downstream consequences of persistence: designed to characterize a wide range of downstream effects of SARS-CoV-2 persistence including impacts on clotting, cerebrospinal fluid flow, neuroinflammation, and vagus nerve signaling.
  5. Impact on other pathogens and microbiome: designed to determine the extent to which SARS-CoV-2’s impact on the immune system facilitates the reactivation of other latent pathogens such as herpesviruses or the parasite Toxoplasma, and/or disrupts the delicate balance of the human microbiome.

These projects push the boundaries of how cutting-edge technologies can be used in the study of chronic disease. These include sequencing technologies like spatial transcriptomics that allow for a detailed understanding of immune activity near identified virus; whole-body PET imaging technologies that allow for visualization of SARS-CoV-2 in deep tissue reservoirs; and single nuclei RNA sequencing to characterize the landscape of tissue, blood vessel, and nervous system changes. 

The LCRI Clinical Trials Program

Our Clinical Trials Program will build on the findings of the Research Program to identify a pipeline of therapeutics that LCRI will position into clinical trials. Candidate therapeutics include SARS-CoV-2 antivirals, immunomodulators, targeted anticoagulants, and microbiome-based therapeutics. We will draw on the patient community to communicate the urgent need for rapid clinical trials to regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies.

What Makes our Approach Unique?

  • A research team of leading experts working collaboratively and across institutions to execute a coordinated research program. 
  • Treating patients is our priority. Our goal is to find effective treatments for those suffering, and everything we do works towards this aim. 
  • A focus on the root cause. We will identify and treat the drivers of the disease, not just the symptoms.
  • Less bureaucracy. Researchers often spend half of their time on grant applications. We will break this model of medical research by engaging private funders and working as a lean organization to move fast.
  • An operating model with the urgency and pragmatism of a startup. LCRI brings cross-institution collaboration, an innovative trials program, and high levels of patient engagement.

The Big Picture

We stand at an important moment in time. Viruses beyond SARS-CoV-2 – such as Epstein-Barr Virus and the enteroviruses – are increasingly implicated in a growing number of chronic conditions, including ME/CFS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Bacterial pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) are also increasingly connected to the development of chronic disease symptoms. Persistent viral or bacterial activity may even play a role in the human aging process, positioning this work at the center of longevity research. We will iterate the LCRI collaborative infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies toward the study of pathogen activity in these related conditions. This could usher in an era in which antivirals, immunotherapies, and related therapeutics become treatment possibilities for millions of patients across the globe.