Research Identifies Potential Genetic Cause for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Following COVID-19 Infection; International Team Publishes Findings in Science

Robert H. Silverman, PhD

New research findings have revealed an underlying genetic cause for why some children who have had COVID-19 infection develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare but potentially life-threatening disease. The findings are the first potential genetic cause identified for MIS-C, a disease that typically occurs about four weeks after COVID-19 infection and has broad symptoms such as fever, vomiting, and inflammation of the heart muscle that can lead to hospitalization. States have reported approximately 9,000 MIS-C cases, with 71 deaths, according to most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers. The new results, published in Science on December 20, 2022, are rooted in more than 40 years of research from Robert H. Silverman (photo), PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute’s Department of Cancer Biology. The international study, led by scientists at The Rockefeller University, found genetic mutations to the proteins OAS (oligoadenylate synthetase) and RNase L increased the inflammatory response in some immune cell types. That change can cause inflammation in multiple organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. In the study, such mutations were identified in a small subset of children with MIS-C. The open-access Science article is titled “Inborn Errors of OAS–RNase L in SARS-CoV-2–Related Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children.”

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