Researchers from the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University have developed a diagnostic method that will reveal whether a person with Covid-19 is at risk of a severe course of the disease, which representatives of the university announced at a press conference.
According to the co-author of the method, Stanislav Kmoch from the 1st Faculty of Medicine, the team identified a “candidate biomarker” present in the nasopharynx which, depending on its level, is important for predicting the further course of the disease and the risk of cytokine shock, which is a life-threatening condition.
Kmoch said that during the research, 2,000 people were quickly examined, half of whom were positive. They then observed the infected. People with low levels of the biomarker went through the disease without much difficulty. However, the patients with high levels had a worse or even difficult case.
He emphasized that once the threat of a severe course of Covid-19 was identified, the person in question could be given timely, for example, monoclonal antibodies or appropriate drugs to prevent the disease from worsening.
The method is part of the PCR test for Covid-19, and the risk is assessed based on the level of a particular biomarker in the patient. The new university company, GeneSpector Innovations, has filed a patent application, and laboratories could soon start utilizing the procedure.
The research involved a team from Charles University collaborating with the Thomayer Hospital in Prague, the hospital in Uherské Hradiště, and a number of laboratories. According to the university, the current price of the Covid-19 test would not be significantly increased by the use of the method.
No such method used abroad
The Rector of Charles University, Tomáš Zima, stated that the university has no information that a similar procedure is being used abroad.
“We can start producing this kit to a limited extent within a few weeks, providing doctors with relevant information about the patient’s condition,” said Michal Pohludka, CEO of GeneSpector Innovations, which is in charge of the project. According to Pohludka, negotiations are underway with industrial partners regarding the expansion of production, which would make it possible to provide an innovative test to laboratories “as soon as possible”.
The new subsidiary, GeneSpector Innovations, was also introduced by representatives of Charles University at the event, and it is the fifth university spin-off company. The company targets the development and transfer of new diagnostic approaches for COVID-19 and a range of other diseases.
A Medical Assistant administers a Covid test as part of plans by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to test workers Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, at the Grand Avenue Bus Depot in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)