Today, private pharmaceutical companies and government research institutes in many countries are looking for effective methods to combat coronavirus. Much effort is being made to reduce morbidity. Several coronavirus vaccines have been created in Russia and in the world, which are now being tested. Moreover, Russian developments have become a real technological breakthrough, which is not even questioned by other countries. So far, however, it is difficult to say when the mass vaccination of the population may begin.
No less important is the work on the creation and implementation of technologies and practices in wide medical practice that facilitate the course of COVID-19 in patients, reduce mortality and the risks of subsequent complications. And, of course, the victory over the coronavirus is impossible without diagnosis. The existing methods of detecting infection are still far from ideal. Antibody tests, due to their specificity, cannot determine the presence of coronavirus in the early stages, when the infected person's body has not yet developed specific antibodies. And PCR tests that detect viral RNA fragments take time and skilled personnel. In many small settlements, such clinical diagnostic laboratories simply do not exist, which means that biomaterial samples taken there have to be sent to the “mainland”. Rapid tests for coronavirus is something that could significantly increase the coverage of testing the population, not only in megacities and big cities, but throughout our country.
Several projects for the creation of test systems were implemented within the framework of the HealthNet (HealthNet) market roadmap of the National Technology Initiative. In particular, a subsidiary of the Institute of Human Stem Cells registered in the fall a highly sensitive test for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2-CoronaPass coronavirus. And the specialists of the DRD company have developed a Russian rapid test for coronavirus. This company gained fame outside of Russia thanks to the development of the world's first test for the diagnosis of cerebral ischemia.
Another express test was created by the Medico-Biological Union, which is also a project of the Healthnet market. Any unprepared person can use it, although the developers themselves believe that the Russian express test is more likely to find application in medical institutions, including at ambulance stations. “We were able to reduce the analysis time to 15 minutes by using enzymes. In the West, there are companies that use a similar method, but their tests usually take from 40 minutes to an hour,”notes Andrei Tronin, Science Director of the Medico-Biological Union.
The St. Petersburg manufacturer of fitness bracelets, the Hilby company, which also received support from the NTI, today offers a solution for remote monitoring of human health parameters. There is probably no need to explain how important this is in a pandemic, when patients with COVID-19 may experience a sharp deterioration in their condition that threatens their life and health. Of course, such monitoring is able to detect a person's reactions to the development of any kind of infectious disease, not just those caused by the coronavirus.
Remote monitoring is important not only during a pandemic, and there are plans here too. Thus, preliminary work has begun on the Helsnet project of the NTI, named Health HEuristics. We are talking about creating a digital platform for personalized management of the quality of human life based on automated collection and complex analysis of multimodal data.
Fighting viral infections in general and COVID-19 in particular is not an easy task in itself. Disputes about the effectiveness of antiviral agents do not subside. Nevertheless, researchers, including Russian ones, do not abandon their attempts to find a way to stop the spread of pathogenic viruses in the human body.
The company "R-Pharm", the market leader "Healthnet", announced the patenting of a new biotechnological drug for the treatment of coronavirus, which works as a "trap" for it, blocking the spread in the human body. “The drug development project is now at an early stage, but it is a priority for R-Pharm and is moving forward in an accelerated manner. We expect that along with other promising methods of treatment, the new molecule will be able to contribute to the fight against coronavirus infection in Russia and in the world,”says Alexey Repik, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the R-Pharm group of companies.
Chemicals on their own, even if shown to be effective in vitro, are useless if there are no suitable routes to administer them to the patient. Here, it would seem, everything has already been invented a long time ago. However, within the framework of the NTI, Russian developers presented the innovative system "Living breath". These are "smart" digital inhalers that can independently dispense a dose of medicine to patients and inform the doctor about the quality of treatment. The first pilot project with digital inhalers has already started in the Trans-Baikal Territory. Anton Melnikov, director of development for Living Breathing, explained to RIA Novosti that 25-65% of the dose of the drug administered using a conventional inhaler settles in the upper respiratory tract without getting into the inflammation focus. And "smart" inhalers allow drugs to reach the affected parts of the lungs. “Digital control of drug administration will allow tracking the time of administration, the sequence of administration of drugs and the dose that needs to be delivered to the lungs,” he added.
Another development that can save many lives was presented by InertGaz Medical, a member of the Healthnet market. These are the BreezeLite apparatus and the Heliox 30 gas mixture. Due to pneumonia caused, among other things, by coronavirus, blood oxygen saturation (saturation) may drop. But it is enough to connect the patient to this device, which supplies the patient with a mixture of oxygen and helium, for only 15 minutes, and the saturation rises to the maximum level. The technology has already been tested in practice, including at the Burdenko hospital.
During the past year, NTI also supported several projects related to a targeted approach, when drugs are made based on the analysis of genes of a particular patient or new methods of drug delivery are used. The project is called "Antionko-RAS".
The pandemic has shown that Russia is still highly dependent on foreign developments in medicine. There is a hope that the joint efforts of private business and the state will reduce this dependence - albeit not immediately, but in some foreseeable future. Concrete work is already underway.