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A Charlottesville biotech company says it’s come up with a test that predicts the most severe cases of COVID-19 and could guide doctors in their choice of medications to save lives.
Scientists at AMPEL Biosolutions had been studying lupus – an auto-immune disease in which the body’s white blood cells cause inflammation of joints and organs. What they heard about the most serious cases of COVID-19 sounded familiar.
“There are certain white blood cells that normally would fight off the COVID that are out of control and are actually propagating damage to the lungs and other organs,” says Amrie Grammar, AMPEL’s Chief Scientific Officer. “These uncontrolled white blood cells are secreting a variety of inflammatory compounds that are driving the severe symptoms and the lung damage.”
Not everyone who gets COVID suffers that symptom, but those who do may end on a ventilator and many will die. So AMPEL developed a test that identifies those at greatest risk for serious complications and could guide doctors to use certain medications that would reduce or prevent inflammation of the lungs. The company hopes it can collaborate with a firm that makes diagnostic kits for the coronavirus, so that doctors can identify patients and plan treatment strategies with just one test.