At the Forefront of COVID-19 Research

covid-19 research

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Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of WMCHealth, has joined forces with other hospitals around the country and the world to investigate the effects of COVID on kids.

The Mystery of MIS-C

One strong area of interest has been MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a condition linked to COVID-19 in which different body parts become inflamed, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and gastrointestinal system.

“Outside of MIS-C, children generally manage COVID better than adults, and it’s important we study this to understand why,” explains Matthew Pinto, MD, a pediatric critical care specialist in the pediatric ICU at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

“The network was at the forefront of MIS-C management and evaluation right from the beginning,” says the Director of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac MRI, Supriya Jain, MD. “We were the first center in the U.S., and the second in the world, to publish our cardiac MRI findings in children with MIS-C. These findings were very helpful in proving that cardiac MRI played an important role in the management of these sick children.”

MIS-C bears some similarities to Kawasaki disease, a pediatric syndrome that causes blood vessel inflammation and is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children. To study these commonalities, Dr. Jain has signed on as the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s principal investigator for an international research study, called Association of Kawasaki Disease and COVID-19 with Cardiac Complications. “Being an active member of the International Kawasaki Disease Registry (IKDR) network, which spans across 65 institutions and 11 countries worldwide, gives us an opportunity to study the cardiac complications of COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease in children around the world.”

Dr. Jain is also the principal investigator for the hospital for another multicenter study, A Data Science Approach to Identify and Manage Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children Associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Kawasaki Disease in Pediatric Patients, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “This research is looking to develop approaches for identifying children at high risk for MIS-C related to COVID,” she says. “It’s very exciting to see how we can help these children. We will also study the long-term effects if any.” Dr. Jain also serves as principal investigator for the hospital for a third, Paris-based, study, called CARDOVID, which is looking into the findings of cardiac MRI and CT imaging in children with COVID.

Assessing COVID’s Long-Term Effects

WMCHealth remains committed to COVID pediatric research and will continue to look for opportunities to study this topic in the years to come.

Along with Rutgers University, Yale University and other medical centers, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital will participate in CONNECT, “a study to identify genes that may be linked to developing COVID and its possible complications,” says Dr. Pinto.

“By combining our expertise with that of other leading medical institutions worldwide, we feel that these collaborations will really help us better combat COVID-19 and its effects on children,” says Dr. Jain.