TACKLING COVID-19: "COVIRNA" PROJECT FUNDED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION
A diagnostic test to improve surveillance and care of COVID-19 patients
The COVIRNA project, based on FIRALIS’ innovative “FIMICS panel” (click to know more on FIMICS) of cardiac enriched long non-coding RNAs (“lncRNA”s) and coordinated by the Luxembourg Institute of Health (“LIH”); following an in-depth evaluation of several field experts within the framework of Horizon-2020 call for “Innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to COVID-19 and to deliver quick results for society for a higher level of preparedness of health systems”, is awarded by the European Commission (EC) with 3.88 Mio€ of research grant. COVIRNA aims to foster the development of a novel prognostic test to predict COVID-19 outcomes in patients during the hospitalisation.
ORIGINS OF COVIRNA:
On May 19th 2020, the EC launched the second call for an Expression of Interest for innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to COVID-19 and to deliver quick results for society for a higher level of preparedness of health systems (SC1-PHECORONAVIRUS-2020-2) as part of the ERAvsCORONA Action Plan, as part of the EC's EUR 1.4 billion pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response. This second EC call focused on wide-scale and rapid deployment of readily available health-based technological solution to manage and contain current and future outbreaks.
In this context, the highly innovative FIMICS targeted next-generation sequencing panel developed by Firalis and its academic partners of excellence quantifies cardiac enriched lncRNAs in the blood. The COVIRNA consortium will collaborate with the EU-CardioRNA (“Catalyzing transcriptomics research in cardiovascular disease”) COST Action, a consortium of 15 academic and innovative SMEs which pooled expertise and resources (notably by providing access to various European COVID-19 clinical cohorts) to build a multidisciplinary and multicentre study with the common aim to improve individualised surveillance, care and follow-up of COVID-19 patients.
Awarded under the topic SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2B (Medical technologies, Digital tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI) analytics to improve surveillance and care at high Technology Readiness Levels), the COVIRNA project started on November 1st, 2020 and will last 24 months.
WHAT COVIRNA IS:
COVIRNA is a patient-centred Innovation action aiming to generate a precision medicine tool to identify COVID-19 patients at risk of developing fatal cardiovascular complications, ultimately leading to their improved surveillance and care. In particular, the project will complete and deploy a prognostic device based on cardiac enriched lncRNAs biomarkers of COVID-19 clinical outcomes, combined with a predictive model built on digital tools and artificial intelligence analytics. COVIRNA project is coordinated by LIH, through the Cardiovascular Research Unit of the Department of Population Health, led by Dr Yvan DEVAUX. The project is centralized on the use of Firalis proprietary FIMICS kit. Firalis will be responsible for the lncRNA biomarkers measurement and their translation into an In vitro Diagnostic (IVD) kit.
THE COVIRNA SOLUTION:
The consortium will have access to the samples and associated patients’ data from different clinical centres of excellence and also counts on multiple existing cohorts of COVID-19 patients throughout Europe. Firalis and its academic partners will stratify the patients based on the patented FIMICS panel of cardiac-enriched long noncoding RNA biomarkers and develop an in-vitro diagnostic test (COVIRNA), for personalized therapy of COVID-19+ patients. The study will therefore rapidly deliver a minimally-invasive, simple yet robust and affordable prognostic assay that can be used in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in further major health crises.
“By tackling the cardiovascular complications of COVID-19, which are known to contribute significantly to Major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) including the mortality, the project is expected to have a major impact on patient outcomes”, explains Dr Yvan DEVAUX.
“The COVIRNA test will hopefully be CE-marked and commercialised, allowing the stratification of patients according to their risk of developing cardiac side-effects, thereby improving therapeutic approaches and giving valuable insights for novel drug design. As an innovative biotech, it is our role to be a key contributor of the COVIRNA project. It is an exceptional opportunity for our innovation and research pipeline on organ associated lncRNAs which are a novel source of biomarker candidates for the management of the pandemic by predicting cardiac effect of Sars-Cov2”, concludes Pr. Hüseyin FIRAT, CEO of Firalis SA.
THE COVIRNA TEAM:
With a total budget of EUR 4.44 million and EUR 3.88 million of EU contribution, the project brings together 15 partners from healthcare, academia and industry from 12 European countries to build a strong and complementary consortium. The COVIRNA partners are:
> Luxembourg Institute of Health (LU)
> Firalis SA (FR)
> University of Luxembourg (LU)
> Imperial College of Science and Technology Medicine (UK)
> University of Maastricht (NL)
> European Health Management Association (BE)
> Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf (DE)
> The University of Edinburgh (UK)
> International University of Sarajevo (BA)
> Policlinico San Donato SPA (IT)
> Pharmahungary 2000 Kft (HU)
> University of Leipzig (DE)
> Jožef Stefan Institute (SI)
> Fundació Privada Institut de Recerca de l`Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (SP)
> University of Coimbra (PT)