COVID-19 is an unpredictable disease. As of May 2020, about ~4% of the infected had to be hospitalized. Of those,  ~19% required intensive care and ~18% died. Our project aims to address the unpredictability faced by doctors and  nurses when treating COVID-19 patients. We will develop a predictive blood test able to identify individuals at high  risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Our test will guide clinical decision making, improve patient outcome and reduce  costs, and may lead to a screening test to identify high-risk individuals in the general population. We use information on how genes are regulated to develop our test. From influenza, we know that the genes of the immune system are switched on and off according to a specific pattern as the infection progresses. This pattern  correlates well with the severity of the disease. A similar pattern can be seen for other viruses, including those  causing the common cold. In this project, we will use knowledge about these patterns to make a blood test that can  predict the outcome of COVID-19 for an individual. We have gathered an ideal team for the job: the diagnostics startup Age Labs and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) have previously built blood-based prediction models for other diseases using this approach. The Dahl  research group at Oslo University Hospital (OUH) specializes in gene regulation and lab methods required to measure  it. The clinical groups at the Department of Acute Medicine at OUH Ullevål and Internal Medicine at Bærum Hospital  are tasked with treating COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization. Both hospitals will run a trial of our blood test  in a real-life setting, as part of this project. 

Project leader:

John Arne Dahl

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