WALTHAM, Mass.–GoodCell (“LifeVault Bio”), the company decoding human health to extend and improve the quality of life through technology powered by science, today announced the start of a three-stage program with New York Blood Center (NYBC), one of the preeminent, comprehensive blood products and services and research organizations in the United States, to study how specific acquired and inherited genetic variations in blood contribute to COVID-19 severity and recovery.
The research aims to advance a global understanding of susceptibility to severe disease and COVID-19 risk factors that could ultimately inform the creation of a COVID-19 susceptibility test. This type of test could serve as a critical tool in managing the disease with greater precision, support preemptive detection and treatment of high-risk patients, aid ongoing reopening efforts, and inform therapeutic research and vaccine prioritization. As part of the collaboration, NYBC will supply samples of cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) acquired from COVID-19 positive patients who have donated to the organization and given consent for research. GoodCell will analyze the samples using its proprietary assays to identify and validate indicators of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.
“Our blood and cells contain a vast network of information essential to defeating this virus,” said Trevor Perry, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GoodCell. “As hubs for these materials, blood centers play an invaluable role in the fight. We continue to be inspired by New York Blood Center’s efforts to accelerate COVID-19 exploration on several fronts, from research to community recruitment of blood and convalescent plasma donors. Its partnership is a true testament to the potential of our susceptibility test, and we look forward to embarking on this journey with a collaborator that shares our mission to harness the power of blood to improve quality of life for all.”
Among the goals of the research is to understand correlations between COVID-19 severity and the presence of accumulated genetic variation that culminate in the expansion of detrimental mutations and damage to DNA within blood cells, a phenomenon known as clonal hematopoiesis (CH). Recent studies have established linkages between such genetic changes and an aberrant inflammatory response characterized by increased cytokines, which has been associated with severe COVID-19 clinical manifestations. A recent statistical study has also revealed a linear correlation between age-related increase in the frequency of such accumulated genetic variations measured by our assay and the age-related increase in mortality of COVID-19 infected patients. This finding indicates that the virus’ high mortality rate among older individuals may be tied to these genetic mutations. It is hypothesized that these changes in DNA may contribute to extreme viral complications, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), chronic lung injury, venous thrombosis, acute cardiac injury and chronic cardiac damage, resulting in cardiomyopathy.
“We are very excited to be working with GoodCell to understand a condition for which researchers have barely scratched the surface, especially as it relates to COVID-19,” said Larry Luchsinger, PhD, Head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Regenerative Research; Director of the NYBC iPSC Program; and Principal Investigator, Assistant Member at the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute. “Although CH is highly prevalent in adults, its causes and effects are still largely unknown. Establishing an association with COVID-19 will prompt a closer look at the condition as a means to prevent mortality and to better personalize treatment approaches. GoodCell’s unique technology platform to study genetic variation in blood over time, paired with our access to donor samples, has the potential to be a powerful combination to evaluate this condition within the context of COVID-19 and further tip the scales against this virus.”
“Understanding the role of accumulated genetic variation in addition to inherited genetic variants will be critical in identifying individuals predisposed to severe COVID-19 complications,” said Salvatore G. Viscomi, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, GoodCell. “Validating the genetic variations associated with CH could be utilized as a disease modifier that could answer so many questions that still remain about COVID-19, such as why some patients are more responsive or refractory to treatments and why some patients undergo more rapid disease progression. We believe our work with NYBC is foundational to accelerating this research and will advance collective efforts to create a commercial COVID-19 susceptibility test.”
To learn more about GoodCell’s COVID-19 susceptibility testing efforts, visit https://goodcell.com/blog/unlocking-the-secrets-of-covid-19-in-our-cells/.
To learn more about partnership opportunities with GoodCell Diagnostics, please visit https://goodcell.com/the-science/diagnostics/.
About New York Blood Center
Founded in 1964, New York Blood Center (NYBC) is a nonprofit organization that is one of the largest independent, community-based blood centers in the world. NYBC, along with its operating divisions Community Blood Center of Kansas City, Missouri (CBC), Innovative Blood Resources (IBR), Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD), and Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC), collect approximately 4,000 units of blood products each day and serve local communities of more than 75 million people in the Tri-State area (NY, NJ, CT), Mid Atlantic area (PA, DE, MD, VA), Missouri and Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Southern New England. NYBC and its operating divisions also provide a wide array of transfusion-related medical services to over 500 hospitals nationally, including Comprehensive Cell Solutions, the National Center for Blood Group Genomics, the National Cord Blood Program, and the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, which — among other milestones — developed a practical screening method for hepatitis B as well as a safe, effective and affordable vaccine, and a patented solvent detergent plasma process innovating blood-purification technology worldwide.
GoodCell’s vision is to give every person control over their health by providing access to a science- backed, technology-forward platform that decodes the common language of our cells and extends the quality of life for individuals, their families and all of humankind. The company’s platform uniquely combines personal biobanking, diagnostics and data to provide individuals and their families the ability to securely test, track and respond to health risks, while enabling the scientific community to advance diagnostics and drug development at scale to create next-generation safeguards for global health. Driven by mounting evidence in support of cellular therapy and united in the belief that you should be empowered to take control of your health, GoodCell is led by a founding team of science and technology innovators with a diverse set of medical research. Learn more at: www.goodcell.com.