By Kathryn Young
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — A Charlottesville-based precision medical company has developed a new approach to predicting the severity of the coronavirus.
AMPEL BioSolutions has developed technology to determine how severely a person will react to coronavirus and identify the best, FDA-approved treatment options. The company has been working since March to develop a new test amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“AMPEL’s goal is to accelerate getting effective treatments to COVID patients to be able to blunt that serious illness that leads to lung damage and death,” said Dr. Amrie Grammer, Co-Founder, COO, and CSO of AMPEL BioSolutions.
Grammer, a double University of Virginia-graduate, said the company began work quickly to get results, publishing a paper in just five weeks.
“We started working around the clock and were able to get some results in five weeks to be able to suggest drugs that would blunt that very serious illness that leads to lung damage,” she said.
The genomic test, CovGENE, uses bodily fluids from a nasal swab or blood for testing. A partnership with a diagnostic company could expedite the test’s timeline.
“To partner with an existing diagnostic company that has a test on the market for COVID, to be able to license that, and they could very quickly bring this to market, with the right company it could be available in a matter of months,” Grammer said.
AMPEL’s focus has shifted slightly over the past few months.
“Our goal was bringing new drugs to patients with serious illness, initially Lupus, a very serious auto-immune disease that affects women,” Grammer said.
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, she felt an obligation to focus on COVID-19 research.
“A contribution to the scientific community and we felt an obligation to bring that forward, especially in these very difficult COVID-19 pandemic times,” Grammer said.
AMPEL BioSolutions is working to get its lupus treatment, LuGENE, a gene-based diagnostic for patients to determine disease status, predict flares ups, and match patients with the best drug options, to market by 2022. The company is currently securing funding.