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The Making of Medicine

A Test to ID Patients at High Risk of Severe COVID-19

A new blood test being developed by a company based here in Charlottesville can identify patients at high risk for severe COVID-19, new research by our Alexandra Kadl, MD, suggests. That information could help doctors ensure patients at high risk get aggressive treatment early on.

The test, called CovGENE, examines genes expressed in a person’s blood to assess the risk they face from COVID-19. The approach proved more than 90% accurate at predicting outcomes among more than two dozen patients in the intensive care unit here at UVA and 100 patients from publicly available data generated at Duke and Harvard.

“We have come far in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in the past two years. Regardless, we still struggle to identify patients at highest risk for severe disease. Our study uses a gene-analysis approach to identify an immune cell signature, distinct from other respiratory illnesses, that correlates with worse outcomes,” Dr. Kadl said. “This knowledge has the potential to help evaluate patients’ immune profile with commonly, readily available assays to identify patients at risk for bad outcomes who would benefit from closer monitoring and advanced therapies to aid their recovery.” 

The test is being developed by AMPEL Biosolutions, a company co-founded by a "double Hoo" -- a person who holds two degrees from UVA. Amrie Grammer, PhD, received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree here. 

Based on the promising results, AMPEL is searching for a diagnostic testing company or pharmaceutical company to bring the test to market.

The new study was a collaboration of Dr. Kadl and folks at AMPEL, but she had no financial interest in the work.

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