OpGen, Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet to Study Bacterial Co-Infections in COVID-19 Pneumonia Patients

Coronavirus infection of lungs, conceptual illustration
3D Rendering,COVID-19 virus infection of human lungs

Molecular diagnostics and bioinformatics company OpGen which focuses on infectious disease, announced an investigator-initiated collaboration with Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, to identify bacterial co-infections in patients admitted to the ICU for COVID-19 pneumonia.

High-risk COVID-19 patients, which includes the elderly and others with co-morbidities including diabetes and obesity, are also at a higher risk of acquiring bacterial co-infections that pose severe life-threatening complications. These co-infections are not always easily determined based on clinical symptoms alone and can potentially lead to poor outcomes including mortality.

The research will employ the Unyvero Hospitalized Pneumonia (HPN) panel from OpGen subsidiary Curetis. Karolinska Institutet has previously evaluated the Unyvero system and the HPN panel and the organization has been provided with additional Unyvero Analyzers and HPN cartridges for the increased throughput to enable testing under this new collaboration.

“We are excited about this collaboration which allows us to use the Unyvero HPN multiplexed molecular diagnostic panel to rapidly detect a comprehensive spectrum of clinically relevant bacterial and fungal pathogens and antibiotic resistance markers in lower respiratory tract specimens obtained from critically ill hospitalized ICU patients during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Professor and Senior Consultant Physician Christian Giske, department of laboratory medicine, Karolinska Institutet, in a press release. “We envision the future possibility of running specimens 24/7 in a random-access fashion as the samples arrive in the laboratory,”

According to OpGen, the HPN panel detects 21 clinically relevant pathogens and 17 antibiotic resistance markers in less than 5 hours directly from native specimen, a significantly faster turnaround time compared with traditional bacterial cultures that typically take days to return results.

“Time is critical when managing a novel virus and bacterial pneumonia co-infections, especially during a pandemic of such grave scale as COVID-19,” said Oliver Schacht, Ph.D., CEO of OpGen. “Rapid multiplex molecular diagnostics can play a crucial role in the fight against the pandemic. We are very pleased about our collaboration with Karolinska Institutet and we sincerely hope that in this way we can contribute to improving the outcomes of COVID-19 patients by way of a comprehensive offering of diagnostic solutions for severe and often life-threatening respiratory tract infections,” said Oliver Schacht, Ph.D., CEO of OpGen.

In the U.S., the Unyvero LRT and LRT BAL panels for detection of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia are FDA-cleared for tracheal aspirate samples and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids, respectively.

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