It is a unique diagnostic method developed by scientists from the BioVendor company in Brno. They are based on so-called In silico studies, i.e. simulations conducted by computers.
BioVendor has a licensed microRNA measurement method developed and patented by partners in Sweden.
“Diagnosis of Covid-19 using microRNA, i.e. molecules smaller than DNA, is a globally unique approach, no one is working with it so far. Thanks to the fact that we have a unique patented method for measuring miRNA, which common diagnostic methods don't use, we were able to try this method on the diagnosis of Covid-19 relatively quickly,” adds Grešáková.
MicroRNA is already being used in diagnostics, it helps to diagnose cancer, for example
At BioVendor, they have been working on innovative microRNA-based methods for the past four years, showing that they are useful in diagnostics of many pathologies and identifying their stages. By monitoring the behavior of these molecules, they can already recognize, for example, a colon tumor from a patient's blood or other types of cancer. Now they are also focusing on the diagnostics of Covid-19, which could help reduce the number of serious disease courses.
The new method works not only with virus molecules, but also with human ones
The new diagnostic kits for the diagnostics of Covid-19 would work with human microRNAs, according to its specific level it could be indicated that a particular person is at increased risk of infection of certain organs with the virus. Thanks to this test, it is possible to predict whether a given person is in a risk group and which of his organs are at higher risk. So far, researchers are working with more than 15 types of human microRNA molecules, each of them indicates a different risk.
Physicians would thus have much more detailed information about each positive patient than before.
At BioVendor, they are also working on a detection system for measuring viral microRNAs, typical for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The presence of viral miRNA is an indicator of coronavirus activity. “It means that the essays we have developed can recognize both human cells and virus particles at the molecular level, and thanks to that we are able to predict what the virus will do in a particular patient's body and how his immune system will respond. Whether a patient will go through a viral infection asymptomatically or is at higher risk of more serious complications,” explains Grešáková from BioVendor R&D team.
Patients at risk of a serious condition, could undergo preventive treatment in time
Physicians could then tailor treatment to specific patients much earlier than they do today. Now, many of those infected get to hospitals in a serious condition. More accurate testing could help personalize treatment and detect patient's serious reactions on time. “On the other hand, it would theoretically not be necessary to isolate patients whose immune system regulates the microRNA of the virus in the patient's body sufficiently. For such a person, basic therapy and support of the immune system, which can handle the virus on its own, would work,” Grešáková points out.
“Until now, testing was focused only on the presence of the virus in the patient's body, or whether the patient has developed antibodies after the disease. The new method would provide much more information on the specific manifestations of the disease and could help to focus medical care more precisely and especially preventively on patients who are at higher risk,” describes Eva Pindurová, Director of the Molecular Division at BioVendor Group.
Laboratories could try the new diagnostic method in the spring
Diagnostic methods using microRNA have already been tested in other areas, scientists attach the greatest importance to it in the field of diagnostics of various types of cancer. As for Covid-19, the BioVendor diagnostic kit is in the testing phase, but the new method could get into laboratories as part of clinical validation during May.
BioVendor is now working on other Covid-19 testing methods
“We are currently working on several different ways of testing. Thanks to a combination of approaches, we are able to bring comprehensive information about specific patients. Of course, it is important to know whether or not the patient is infected with the virus. This is now determined, for example, by PCR tests. Using massive parallel sequencing, the so-called NGS method, it is then possible to determine the exact sequence of the virus, its origin and to detect possible mutations in its genome. With the help of sophisticated software, which was custom-programmed for BioVendor by Bioxsys, the obtained data can be also correctly evaluated. Thanks to diagnostic methods based on the detection of microRNA, we are then able to predict how the patient's immune system will most likely respond to the infection,” summarizes Pindurová.
Among other things, the BioVendor Group is working on the development of the following methods for the molecular diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2, thus providing a unique comprehensive approach to the diagnosis of the new coronavirus:
Diagnostics using microRNAs - thanks to this unique method that can measure microRNAs, it is possible to predict patient's response to the infection and also predict which of his organs are at risk
NGS method for so-called sequencing - allows reading the virus genome. Thanks to sophisticated software, it is possible to analyze where the virus from which a particular patient is infected comes from and also to detect possible mutations in the virus.
LAMP tests - a new technology that works with saliva samples and, like PCR tests, detects the presence of the virus in the patient's body, its advantage is ease of use, less equipment and speed.
About BioVendor Group
BioVendor – Laboratorní medicína a.s. was founded in 1992 by Viktor Růžička. Since 2017 BioVendor Group Consillium is a shareholder – Tomáš Němec's family company, for which medical diagnostics, together with sport and sustainable agriculture, is a key investment area. BioVendor Group is an international group of biotechnology companies with their own research, development, production of in vitro diagnostic products (IVD) and sales network. Since its founding in 1992, the originally small Brno company with several employees has been transformed into a transnational group, including several global branches, its own R&D division (development center) as well as established brands TestLine, DiaSource, ViennaLab and Oxford BioSystems. The unique width of the portfolio ranks the BioVendor Group among the major players in the global diagnostic market.