Featured project: COVID-19 study with artificial intelligence in Medical Delta Fieldlab Phenomix

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Name: COVID-19 collaboration Medical Delta Fieldlab Phenomix
: To find an explanation for differences in the course of the disease COVID-19; making patient profiles 
Intended result: To be able to determine treatment strategy more precisely
Partners: LACDR/Leiden University; Euretos; Mimetas, LUMC, Erasmus MC, UMC Utrecht
Status: Ongoing research; first results expected in Q3 2020

How is it that some COVID-19 patients become seriously ill and others do not? Why do serious infections occur only in some patients? Why do patients respond so differently to treatment? Why must a so-called cytokine storm be slowed down in one patient, while the immune system in an apparently similar patient should actually get a boost?

These are the kinds of questions that a collaboration of companies, physicians and scientists aims to answer on the basis of, among others, metabolic data. This interdisciplinary collaboration is exemplary of the projects that are undertaken by the Medical Delta Field Lab Phenomix, at the Leiden Bio Science Park. In this field lab, which opened its doors this month, companies, healthcare institutions and scientists work together on projects that have a direct impact on biotech, the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare as a whole.

Euretos is one of the companies participating in this COVID-19 collaboration. The Utrecht-based technology company specializes in AI & data-driven analysis to understand the molecular processes underlying disease biology. Within the field lab, metabolic profiles of patients were created and organ-on-a-chip models based on Mimetas OrganoPlates demonstrated the molecular impact of the SARS-Cov-2 virus on COVID-19 symptoms, such as vascular leakage and thrombosis. From the Euretos platform, researchers evaluate potential explanatory mechanisms that link the metabolic profile to the observed symptoms. Step by step, this process creates an increasingly clearer picture linking specific patient profiles to various symptoms.

“In this cycle of data acquisition, analysis, rationalization and then further elaboration on key observations through further measurements and experimentation, the field lab clearly proves its added value,” says Arie Baak, co-founder of Euretos. The field lab accelerates and improves this process as physicians, technicians and scientists are collaborating continuously on understanding the observations. In addition, the field lab is at the forefront of using the latest technologies and process automation. This not only provides new insights, it also significantly speeds up the process from ‘sample to analysis’.

On the basis of the biological patient profiles, consisting of both genetic and metabolic characteristics, the project expects to better understand the underlying mechanisms explaining the difference in disease progression of COVID-19 patients. This will help to find better treatment for patients. Ultimately, the aim is that a physician will be able to determine on the basis of a blood sample what are the best treatment options for each individual patient. Certain medication can be crucial to slow down a runaway immune system for one patient, but what you don't want is for the virus to run wild by unnecessarily suppressing the immune reaction for other patients. "Ultimately, our collaboration should help doctors quickly and effectively make these kinds of treatment choices."

Picture: An example of one of the rationalization methods that is applied in which the connections from databases and literature are visualized in a relation map. This makes direct and indirect connections from both literature and previous experimental data immediately visible and ready for interpretation.

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