Researchers Find Possible Cause of Silent Hypoxia in Coronavirus Patients

May 6, 2021 10:05:09

Researchers still don’t know a lot about the novel coronavirus and how it attacks various organs in the body. However, among the biggest mysteries of this disease is how it causes oxygen levels in an individual’s body to become abnormally low. This condition, usually referred to as silent hypoxia, irreversibly damages an individual’s vital organs if it remains undetected for an extended period of time.

With the help of computer models, biomedical engineers from Boston University have begun to get to the bottom of this mystery. Their study, which was reported in the “Nature Communications” journal, was conducted in collaboration with University of Vermont researchers.

Prior to this, researchers had discovered that most individuals infected with severe cases of the coronavirus did not display any difficulty breathing or symptoms of shortness of breath, despite their critically low oxygen levels.

In patients with COVID-19, researchers believe that the virus damages the lungs first, which makes it harder for the patients to properly function. This causes more lung tissue to lose oxygen and stop working, which leads to silent hypoxia, as the individual’s blood stream is no longer being infused with oxygen.

One of the study’s authors, professor of materials science and engineering and of biomedical engineering Bela Suki, explained that some COVID-19 patients who had abnormally low oxygen levels displayed almost no signs of abnormalities when they underwent lung scans.

To understand why this happened and uncover this mystery, the biomedical engineers utilized computer modeling to examine three scenarios that could explain why and how the lungs stopped providing oxygen to an individual’s bloodstream. The study’s lead author, biomedical engineer Jacob Herrmann, explained that the group’s findings show that silent hypoxia was most likely brought about by various biological mechanisms that took place at the same time in the lungs of coronavirus patients.

The team of researchers used a computational lung model for their research, which also revealed that for the oxygen levels in one’s blood to decrease to the levels observed in coronavirus patients, blood flow would have to have increased tremendously in some parts of the lungs that couldn’t gather oxygen anymore. This, they said, contributed to the low oxygen levels observed during the study.

Suki noted that people responded to the coronavirus infection differently and added that it was crucial for physicians to understand the reasons why levels in a patient might be low, as this would assist health-care professionals in determining the proper form of treatment for each patient.

This serious complication of silent hypoxia makes the work of companies such as XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT), which is developing rapid test kits that collapse the time needed before results are obtained, important in the fight to bring the global pandemic under control.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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