Understanding the mechanisms of pain in long-COVID

Disease - Chronic pain, fibromyalgia

Lead applicant - Professor Stuart Bevan

Organisation - King’s College London

Type of grant - Special strategic award

Status of grant - Approved

Amount of the original award - £433,265

Start date - 01 March 2022

Reference - TBC

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aims of this research is to characterise the pain experienced by people with long-COVID to understand the mechanisms of the pain and fatigue.

Why is this research important?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected hundreds of millions of people and while many individuals recover fully about 1 in 10 suffer from long term symptoms known as long-COVID. We know already that some patients still experience symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, breathing problems and loss of smell after more than one year. Some patients also suffer from abnormal sensations (pins and needles and burning pain) which could be due to damage to some sensory nerves.

The mechanisms underlying pain and abnormal sensations in long-COVID are unknown and there are no effective treatments or laboratory tests to diagnose long-COVID. In this project researchers will explore if antibodies from people with long-COVID cause symptoms of pain and fatigue in mice. The researchers will also look at similarities between pain in long-COVID and fibromyalgia to see if the immune system is causing pain in both conditions.

How will these findings benefit patients?

Currently there are few effective treatments for the pain associated with long-COVID. By understanding what causes the pain, researchers will be able to understand the best way to treat the pain.