Oxford BioDynamics EpiSwitch selected to help identify COVID-19 patients at risk of severe disease

Oxford BioDynamics Plc (LON:OBD), a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of epigenetic biomarkers, based on regulatory 3D genome architecture, using its liquid biopsy platform EpiSwitch, has today announced its participation in the Chief Scientist Office of Scotland funded biomarker study “Viral and Immunological Correlates of Clinical Severity and Response to Anti-Viral Therapy for COVID-19”, with respect to the GETAFIX clinical study “Glasgow Early Treatment Arm Favipiravir (GETAFIX): A randomised controlled study of favipiravir as an early treatment arm of ASTERIX in COVID-19 hospitalised patients”.

This study will inform both about COVID-19 disease severity and response to the anti-viral therapy, which is a selective inhibitor of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.

·   Oxford BioDynamics’ EpiSwitchä technology has been chosen as the biomarker platform for prognostic and predictive profiling of COVID-19 patients in the GETAFIX clinical study

·   Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow, and NHS Scotland are leading the effort to identify patients at risk of severe immune complications and those patients who can benefit from treatment with the anti-viral favipiravir

·   The EpiSwitchä platform has already delivered prognostic and predictive biomarker developments and validations in collaboration with University of Glasgow Professors Iain McInnes and Carl Goodyear, as well as with EMD Serono, Pfizer, Genentech, Roche, Mayo Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital

These studies are part of nine crucial COVID-19 research projects at the University of Glasgow resulting from a rapid response call aimed at increasing the understanding of the coronavirus pandemic. The work will contribute to global efforts to combat the virus and its wider effects.

COVID-19 infection can prove very harmful and even fatal due to overreaction of the patient’s immune system. The response of the body goes into overdrive triggering excessive release of key regulators of inflammation – cytokines, leading to excessive tissue damage by the immune system. Such “cytokine storms” are well known complications in a number of other infectious diseases such as flu and SARS, or sepsis. Similar cytokine storms are also observed in patients with multiple sclerosis, pancreatitis, or as a common side effect of immuno-oncology treatments such as CAR-Ts and TCRs.

Oxford BioDynamics brings forward its insights and understanding of the pre-set controls of the immune system, monitored through the epigenetic regulatory 3D genomic architecture. The EpiSwitchä biomarker platform has the power to provide prognostic and theragnostic signatures that can be used to identify patients who will benefit from immune treatments and potentially who are at risk of severe disease and cytokine storm.

Jon Burrows, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford BioDynamics, commented:

“In susceptible individuals coronavirus can be devastating, attacking not only the lungs but heart, kidneys, blood vessels, GI tract and liver. It is imperative that we learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. We are confident that the EpiSwitchTM platform will be of great advantage in this endeavour.”

Professor Carl S. Goodyear, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, said:

“To have the greatest impact on the current clinical challenges associated with COVID-19, it is essential that we have the ability to rapidly stratify individuals into those that will progress to severe disease, and those that will respond to available therapies. Evaluation of the immunological set-point via EpiSwitchTM will provide that much needed stratification tool.”

Alexandre Akoulitchev, Chief Scientific Officer of Oxford BioDynamics, added:

“Today, in the midst of the pandemic and with great logistical challenges across society, technologies that offer systemic prognosis from blood samples carry great promise of transformational power for health care management, hospitals, patients and every family affected by the virus. Prognostic patient stratifications achieved by the EpiSwitchTM platform has put us in a unique position to help predict in advance severe cases of cytokine storms and immune disorders in COVID-19 patients.  We believe that our technology could provide the clinical specialist with an invaluable tool to recognise patients at risk and act in their best interests.”

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