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First-of-Its-Kind Rapid Test Could Identify Which COVID-19 Patients Are Responding to Drug Treatments

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 15 Dec 2020
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A new study shows that a first-of-its-kind rapid test could identify which COVID-19 patients are responding to drug treatments and which patients are still deteriorating and need higher doses of medication.

The findings on the study by researchers at the Rabin Medical Center (Petah Tikva, Israel) using a blood test from MeMed Diagnostics (Haifa, Israel) were presented at the virtual 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

Studies are now showing that drugs known as corticosteroids reduce the risk of death in critically ill COVID-19 patients by one-third. In spite of the promise of these drugs, though, clinicians still have concerns about their potential side effects. Corticosteroids work by dampening the activity of a patient's immune system to prevent it from attacking and damaging the lungs. Clinicians therefore worry that prescribing these drugs either too early or at too high a dosage could worsen a patient's condition by hindering the body's ability to clear the virus.

A team of researchers have now demonstrated that MeMed's 15-minute blood test for the protein interferon gamma induced protein 10 (IP-10) could help guide treatment with corticosteroids. Using this test, the researchers measured IP-10 levels twice a day over the course of a month in 52 SARS-CoV-2 positive patients, 26 of whom developed severe COVID-19. This revealed that severe patients had very high median IP-10 levels (1,190 pg/mL) compared to the median IP-10 levels of the non-severe group (328 pg/mL). In 17 of the severe patients treated with corticosteroids, though, median IP-10 levels fell from 2,961 pg/mL to 372 pg/mL within 3-5 days. Only two of these patients eventually died of COVID-19-related complications, and both of them exhibited IP-10 flare-ups of >1,000 pg/mL after initiation of corticosteroids.

"Our findings show that IP-10 testing could be used to identify patients who are not responding to standard corticosteroid regimens and who need more aggressive treatment - something that physicians were afraid to resort to before, because they didn't know what effect it would have," said Dr. Tahel Ilan Ber, MD, who led the study.

Related Links:
Rabin Medical Center
MeMed Diagnostics


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