HOUSTON (PRWEB) June 18, 2020
imaware™, a Houston-based digital health platform organization, is collaborating with university researchers to understand differences in individual risk factors for COVID-19 and target them for early intervention and antiviral therapies. The initial priority of the research project is to understand why a portion of the patient population infected with COVID-19 are at a higher risk for becoming critically ill and how the virus spreads from infected individuals to members of their households.
Sample collection is underway through the imaware™ healthcare professional-administered in-home testing process. All testing is conducted by a CLIA-certified laboratory using the CDC’s EUA-authorized test and protocol, and healthcare professionals are dispatched to patients’ homes to collect the samples for testing. During a sample collection, the same professional who performs the COVID-19 nasopharyngeal swab takes additional nasal swab samples, where investigators dive into understanding more about the spread of COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.
One aspect of the study is to understand host responses to virus complications caused by an overabundance of cytokines, which are proteins the body uses to fight viruses and infections. These cytokines, when functioning properly, rid the body of illness, but if not functioning properly, can trigger an over-exuberant inflammatory response leading to lung injury, organ failure and other severe complications with potentially deadly results.
Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist and laboratory scientist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, is also studying transmission in infected persons to others in their household. After a patient receives a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, her team contacts them to request permission to follow their journey, as well as track the spread of the virus within the household. Dr. Fischer gathers information from patients about the duration of their infections and their predispositions to reinfection. By identifying infected and uninfected individuals and collecting multiple samples at multiple time points in these individuals, critical information can be gleaned about the biology of the disease and its progression.
“As patient advocates, we want to aid in the search to understand more about why some patients are more vulnerable than others to the deadly complications of COVID-19. Our current sample collection process is an efficient way to provide longitudinal prospectively driven data for research and to our knowledge, is the only such approach that is collecting, assessing, and biobanking specimens in real time,” said imaware™ Cofounder Jani Tuomi.
Patient samples are stored at Texas A&M University and are invaluable to further study of the virus. At this time, they are interested in speaking with all infected individuals, but in the future, they may narrow the scope to a more targeted approach, as they adapt to what they learn through the research. These samples and data will be a rich resource for additional future studies to understand COVID-19 and SARS-Cov-2.
As part of the imaware™ testing process, the Wheel network contacts patients testing positive as well as provides telemedicine oversight and post-diagnosis care to CODID-19 patients.
"We believe strongly in supporting this research, as findings from the field can be implemented to improve clinical processes-- helping even more patients," said Wheel's Executive Medical Director, Dr. Rafid Fadul.
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imaware™ is a Houston, Texas based digital health platform organization, offering access to advanced and precise testing that empowers individuals with remote screening and monitoring of their health. imaware™ is uniquely positioned to serve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering access to CDC’s EUA-authorized COVID-19 testing by partnering with a network of local and national healthcare organizations and a CLIA-certified laboratory.
Alicia Whitley – Account Supervisor
Lou Hammond Group, Houston
Jani Tuomi - Cofounder