AUSTIN, Texas, April 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- VolitionRx Limited (NYSE AMERICAN: VNRX) ("Volition") today announced that it is actively developing a COVID-19 triage test aiming to predict the likelihood that an individual who is COVID-19 positive will develop complications and severe disease, using its propriety Nu.QTM platform. 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. 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. 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, therefore, predict the progression of SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia and complications including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Jason Terrell, Chief Medical Officer at Volition commented, "The current COVID-19 pandemic has tragically caused many deaths and is overwhelming healthcare resources around the world. 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."
Volition 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. Subject to successful results from these initial proof of concept studies currently underway, Volition 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.
Jake Micallef, Chief Scientific Officer at Volition commented, "Whilst cancer remains our core disease focus, Volition's existing Nu.QTM epigenetic toolbox may have potential to help doctors and patients in the COVID-19 pandemic or in future respiratory viral outbreaks. We have filed a novel patent for the utilisation 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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The Science Behind Nu.QTM and COVID-19
White blood cells help protect the body against infection. White cells engulf invading viruses and bacteria and produce antibodies against them. In addition, white cells also eject chromatin material out of the cell to form NETs which catch and trap invading viruses. In a respiratory infection, white cells migrate to the lungs to protect them from the virus. However, SARS and pneumonia are associated with an inappropriate hyperimmune response to the virus involving massive ejection of NETs into the blood by white blood cells which is highly damaging to the lungs. The ejected NETs material is made up of nucleosomes which can be detected in minute quantities using Volition's Nu.QTM nucleosome assays. Volition is now testing this clinically to determine whether elevated NETs levels in the blood are predictive of complications arising from viral infection such as COVID-19.
Volition has not yet successfully developed a triage test for COVID-19 and is in investigational stages only.
Volition is a multi-national epigenetics company developing simple, easy to use, cost effective blood tests to help diagnose a range of cancers and other diseases. Early diagnosis has the potential to not only prolong the life of patients, but also to improve their quality of life. The tests are based on the science of NucleosomicsTM, which is the practice of identifying and measuring nucleosomes in the bloodstream or other bodily fluid - an indication that disease is present. Volition is primarily focused on human diagnostics but also has a subsidiary focused on animal diagnostics.
Volition's research and development activities are centered in Belgium, with additional offices in Texas, London and Singapore, as the company focuses on bringing its diagnostic products to market.
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SOURCE VolitionRx Ltd