A team of researchers led by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), in collaboration with Kasturba Hospital, Mumbai, have developed an algorithmic method using infra-red technology to classify patients at risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19.
The technology has been developed with the objective to aid doctors in prioritising severe patients in regions with larger outbreaks. The study was published in the journal Analytical Chemistry on Friday. The team also included doctors and scientists from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia and Agilent Technologies in the United States.
Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
In order to conduct the research, the Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy technology has been used as a rapid blood test for the classification of severe cases in a cohort of 160 Covid-19 patients in Kasturba. In any given sample, Infrared spectroscopy is generally used to measure the different groups of chemicals.
The team of researchers have been studying the protein patterns in Covid affected patients for a year. Now, the study conducted in Kasturba Hospital is a proteomics-based investigation of nasal swab and plasma samples to identify host prognosis markers by employing simple extraction strategies. The team is determined to create a simple test to detect spikes in proteins in the patient.
The head of QIMR Berghofer’s Precision and Systems Biomedicine Research Group and associate professor, Michelle Hill, said “We found there were measurable differences in the infra-red spectra in the patients who became severely unwell. In particular, there were differences in two infra-red regions that correspond to sugar and phosphate chemical groups, as well as primary amines, which occur in specific types of proteins.”
In a small pilot study conducted, 85% accuracy is achieved in detecting patients who are susceptible to becoming severely ill. In future, this method could be used to triage patients in areas with large outbreaks of COVID-19.
Why is it needed?
Due to unprecedented challenges posed by the outbreak of a pandemic, prioritising patients on the basis of their illness have become essential. Based on the available tests like the RT-PCR test, which does not indicate when a patient’s health condition could deteriorate. The study conducted by IIT-B provides a simple and cost-effective solution to this challenge.