VisMederi and the identification of SARS-CoV2 infected subjects
Since its emergence and rapid spread worldwide, due to its airborne transmission and its elevated contagiousity, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus has nowdays reached all the continents. So far, from the beginning of the pandemic million cases and deaths have been reported globally severely involving also those countries which have applied strict lockdown policies with following pandemic waves. If vaccination campaigns in association with restriction measures and the prompt identification of infected subjects have allowed to successfully slow outbreaks, even reaching the goal to have a very low number of new reported case, it has now become evident that SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to represent a threat to humanity. The increased in infection numbers reported are not only due to the increases in testing capacity to identify more cases but also to the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) which can represent a threat for humans due to their significant impact on transmissibility, severity and/or immunity. VOC are likely to have an impact on the worldwide epidemiological situation.
This highlights the importance in the identification of infected people, including asymptomatic subjects, that contribute in maintaining the presence of the virus into the community. From the very beginning of the pandemic, VisMederi is at the front line involved in the identification of infected individuals through its Diagnostic Department, by performing and analyzing nasopharyngeal swabs. With the development of COVID-19 molecular test associated with great on-site testing capabilities, VisMederi has allowed to take the pressure off other Public Health testing labs analyzing swabs by using molecular tests from hospitalized and symptomatic individuals, health care workers, first responders and other social service employees, people exposed to infected individuals in places where COVID-19 risk is high.
VisMederi and the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 virus and a therapy
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has presented enormous challenges for healthcare, societal and economic systems worldwide.
Along with individual protective measures, the identification of new cases of SARS-CoV2 infections, travel limitations and other restrictions, there is an urgent need to find an effective treatment for those COVID-19 patients, even young, which develop severe disease as well as the development of a vaccine. Vaccinations could in fact represent the principal tool in order to provide protection in an elevated number of subjects, limiting effectively the circulation of the virus in the community.
In the frame of the global world effort in uncounteracting SARS-CoV2 pandemic VisMederi has been recognized by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) as one of the 5 laboratories included into the global network of laboratories for the centralized assessment and comparison of the immunological responses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates (https://cepi.net/news_cepi/cepi-establishes-global-network-of-laboratories-to-centralise-assessment-of-covid-19-vaccine-candidates/?fbclid=IwAR314dxp80bLP7cZUxr42rzv8MupROs_f4DvPUZvucEBRtpYH1KbFXYHlh8). The network will use the same testing reagents and follow common protocols to measure the immunogenicity of multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates (both CEPI-funded and non-CEPI funded developers). This approach will ensure uniformity in assessment and informed identification of the most promising vaccine candidates.
VisMederi had played a fundamental role in the evaluation of immunogenicity of one of the first authorized COVID-19 vaccines (https://investors.biontech.de/covid-19-vaccine-partners/) by international regulatory agencies and nowdays is still involved in the evaluation of immunogenicity for most of COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently under development.
In addition, VisMederi takes part directly in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine by using a novel production platform developed through a collaboration with Università Statale di Milano (https://lastatalenews.unimi.it/lecovax2-nuovo-tipo-vaccino-anti-covid-sviluppato-statale-vismederi-research). Preliminary preclinical studies have provided promising results with the production of neutralizing antibodies anti-SARS-CoV-2 in the murine model.
Concurrently, VisMederi is involved both in the evaluation of the prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy of human monoclonal antibodies from COVID-19 convalescent patients (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33667349/) as well as in potential preventive and/ or therapeutic capacities of different natural or synthetic compounds against SARS-CoV2 virus.