Charlottesville company develops test to predict most severe cases of COVID-19

Jun 12, 2020 | Infections, News, Products

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By Riley Wyant

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many complex challenges to those in the medical field. One Charlottesville-based company stepped up to the plate to come up with a solution beyond just testing for the virus.

AMPEL BioSolutions typically does personalized medicine for Lupus patients, but when the pandemic struck scientists switched gears: They went beyond just developing a “positive or negative” coronavirus test. Scientists with AMPEL say they have developed technology to predict whether a patient will have mild or severe symptoms, which could be life-saving.

“So AMPEL’s technology could have a very big impact,” Co-Founder and CEO of AMPEL BioSolutions Dr. Amrie Grammer said.

Most virus tests reveal a simple positive or negative result, but AMPEL’s technology aims to take it a step further: “It looks at the genes have identified what are the best drugs for that individual to provide support for the physician,” the doctor said.

It addresses one of the biggest challenges that COVID-19 presents, the disparity of symptoms across cases.

“Some people are coming back positive, but have very mild or moderate illness,” Dr. Grammer said.

Until now, it was hard to predict the severity of symptoms that a person could have.

“Other people in that second week take a nosedive and get ill very quickly, end up in the emergency room, in the ICU, with increased chance of death,” Dr. Grammer added.

AMPEL says its test can predict whether a patient will have a mild or severe case of the virus.

“To be able to know who those people would be early, and for physicians to be able to interfere with that immune system response that’s actually causing lung damage, will make a tremendous difference and could potentially save many lives,” Dr. Grammer said.

The biotechnology could save many a trip to the hospital by identifying those at a higher risk for complications or serious lung inflammation.

“We figured out we can predict those with serious illness and were able to identify what treatments could make a real difference,” Dr. Grammer claimed.

When AMPEL’s team decided to tackle this pandemic, they not only responded with results, they responded fast.

“From first data in to the submission of the paper was five weeks, and any scientist out there knows that that’s absolute record time,” Dr. Grammer said. “The scientists at AMPEL were really working around the clock.”

AMPEL BioSolutions is actively seeking partnerships with diagnostic companies in order to get this technology off the ground and on the market.

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