A study finds that a new test can identify patients at risk for severe COVID-19

New research from UVA Health suggests that a genetic test being developed by a Charlottesville, Virginia company could predict a patient’s risk of severe COVID-19 infection. This information can help clinicians identify patients at high risk for poor outcomes and quickly begin personalized treatment.

This approach has demonstrated over 90% accuracy in predicting outcomes among more than two dozen UVA ICU patients and 100 patients from publicly available data generated at Duke and Harvard. The test, called CovGENE, analyzes genes expressed in a person’s blood to determine if they may have a severe disease course with an increased risk of death.

“We have come a long way in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in the past two years. Regardless, we still struggle to identify patients who are most at risk for serious disease. Our study uses a gene analysis approach to identify immune cell fingerprints, different from other respiratory diseases, Which correlates with worse outcomes,” said researcher Alexandra Cadell, MD, of UVA Health’s Division of Pulmonary and Intensive Care Medicine. “This knowledge has the potential to help assess patients’ immune profile through public and readily available examinations to identify patients at risk for poor outcomes and who may benefit from close monitoring and advanced therapies to aid their recovery.”

Predict the severity of COVID-19 disease

Based on the promising results of UVA research, CovGENE developer, AMPEL Biosolutions, is seeking to partner with a diagnostic testing company or pharmaceutical company to bring this approach to market as a simple PCR-based blood test.

“This unique collaboration with our colleagues from the University of Virginia has provided an easy and innovative way to assess an individual patient’s response to SARS-CoV-2 and predict clinical outcome,” said Peter Lipsky, MD, CEO of AMPEL, AMPEL CEO. Medical Officer and Co-Founder. “Now that this unique approach has been validated, we look forward to its rapid development as a precision medicine tool that can improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19 and reduce the number of hospitalizations, especially the most vulnerable.”

AMPEL Biosolutions aims to use genomic data to improve patient care. The company develops gene expression tests from blood or tissue samples to help clinicians make clinical decisions.

The company’s co-founder Amrie Grammer, who holds a Ph.D., is a graduate of UVA University, having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there.

Published results

The researchers published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Immunology. The team consisted of Andrea R Damen, Pratiusha Pachaly, Catherine A. Bonham, Lindsey Somerville, Jeffrey M. Storrick, Amry Grammer, Alexandra Cadel and Peter Lipsky. Daamen, Bachali, Grammer, and Lipsky are recruited by AMPEL BioSolutions.

Work was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart and Lung Blood Institute, grant K23 HL143135; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, grant 1R21AI160334; COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative by UVA’s Global Institute of Infectious Diseases; and the RILITE Foundation.

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Materials Introduction of University of Virginia Health System. Note: Content can be modified according to style and length.

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