Diagnostics for post-COVID-19 lung fibrosis
The global transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has imposed numerous healthcare delivery challenges in multiple jurisdictions around the world, independent of socio-economic status of the region. In Canada, there are 87,482 confirmed cases and 6760 deaths as of 27th of May 2020. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is the main cause of death for COVID‑19 patients. The end result of ARDS is pulmonary oedema, reduced ventilation capacity, lung damage, and impaired gas exchange leading to severe COVID‑19 disease and poor health outcomes. The main cause of ARDS is the cytokine storm, in which an excessive level of cytokines and chemokines are released due to an uncontrolled immune responses. The importance of IL-6 in COVID‑19 related ARDS is highlighted by the global clinical trials using anti-IL-6 medications (tocilizumab) and the central role that elevated IL-6 protein plays in development and progression of lung fibrosis.
The goal of our partnership is to combine academic and industry expertise in fibrotic lung disease, the role of IL-6 in this process, and diagnostics, to enable rapid point-of-need detection of IL-6 in COVID‑19 patients for pro-active detection of ARDS.
The outcomes and impacts of our partnership will be a fully-integrated diagnostic system the size of a toaster for bedside use, able to identify which patients will develop ARDS and require aggressive pro-active interventions to minimize morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19-induced lung damage.