VolitionRx Limited (NYSEAMERICAN:VNRX) announced Thursday that it is actively developing a coronavirus (COVID-19) triage test using its proprietary Nu.QTM platform.
The test is being designed to predict the likelihood that an individual who is COVID-19 positive will develop complications and severe disease, the company said in a statement.
The goal of the test is to provide early insight into which patients may require higher levels of monitoring, including hospitalization and critical care resources, versus those who will not develop serious symptoms.
Volition, based in Austin, Texas, said preliminary studies of patients with COVID-19 infection are now underway in hospitals in Belgium and Germany with results expected this quarter.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and pneumonia are associated with highly elevated production of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) by white blood cells, the company explained.
NETs are made of nucleosomes and can be detected in minute quantities in the blood using Volition's Nu.QTM nucleosome assays, which Volition believes may predict the progression of SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia and complications including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients.
"The current COVID-19 pandemic has tragically caused many deaths and is overwhelming healthcare resources around the world,” said Dr Jason Terrell, chief medical officer at Volition in the statement.
“Early identification and triaging of patients who are the most likely to deteriorate and need critical care from those unlikely to develop serious disease would enable both improved outcomes for patients and improved use of critical care resources for healthcare providers."
Working with collaborators
Volition said it is working with collaborators to investigate whether existing Nu.QTM epigenetic assays can predict which patients with COVID-19 are most at risk.
A test that can successfully identify the patients that will need hospitalization or respiratory support would help to provide care for those most in need before they become critically ill and to maximize the best use of critical care beds, the company said.
Subject to successful results from these initial proof of concept studies currently underway, Volition said it plans to conduct further studies using its fully automated Nu.QTM assay platform to ascertain the best use of these tests in different healthcare systems worldwide.
"Whilst cancer remains our core disease focus, Volition's existing Nu.QTM epigenetic toolbox may have the potential to help doctors and patients in the COVID-19 pandemic or in future respiratory viral outbreaks,” said Jake Micallef, chief scientific officer at Volition.
“We have filed a novel patent for the utilization of our Nu.QTM epigenetic platform for the triaging of COVID-19 sufferers. I am looking forward to the results of these trials, and indeed future trials, with the aim of developing a clinically useful product to triage COVID-19 patients worldwide."
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