"USTC Plan" Selected into National Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for COVID-19

  • [2020-03-10]


    On the afternoon of March 6, the press conference of joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council was held in Beijing to introduce the latest progress in scientific and technological research and development. At the conference, the "USTC Plan" treating the COVID-19 inflammatory storm and the emergency and severe cases, and significant reducing the fatality rate was introduced again and attracted widespread attention. This is the latest important achievement in the field of research and treatment of COVID-19 since the launch of "COVID-19 Emergency Scientific Research Institute of CAS (Hefei)". It is also an important progress in the integration of basic and clinical research of "USTC New Medicine" and contributing to the technological epidemic prevention.

    After the outbreak of COVID-19, USTC set up the Research Headquarters for Epidemic Prevention and Control on February 5, relying on the Clinical Research Hospital of CAS (Hefei). It integrated CAS's basic research strength and clinical resources, tackled the direction of prevention, diagnosis and management of COVID-19, and strongly supported the collaborative research of various units in CAS.

    In the process of scientific research, “USTC New Medicine” adheres to the goal of clinical treatment and seeks therapy from scientific research. The headquarters has established two main lines of research: "mechanism and treatment of inflammatory storm" and "cohort research and bioinformation platform", and has opened the whole chain of prevention and management of COVID-19 from scientific research, clinic to application.

    Novel coronavirus activates the immune cells in the body, and the inflammatory storm caused by the strong immune response may be an important reason for the patient's condition to turn severe and even death. Prof. WEI Haiming has been engaged in the basic research of immunity for a long time, and has started to study the mechanism of inflammatory cytokines since SARS. XU Xiaoling, chief physician, is the leader of COVID-19 Diagnosis and Treatment Expert Group in Anhui Province. After the outbreak, WEI Haiming and XU Xiaoling quickly moved the laboratory to the First Affiliated Hospital of USTC. Through a comprehensive analysis of 30 immunologic indexes in the blood from 33 patients with COVID-19, they initially found the key mechanism of "inflammatory storm"; and formulated the plan of "Actemra + routine treatment";, and the clinical research registration was completed on February 13. The press conference of the State Council held on February 15 and March 6th introduced the progress of the plan. On March 3, the plan was incorporated into the COVID-19 Diagnosis and Treatment plan (Tentative 7th Edition) issued by the National Health Commission and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. At the invitation of "COVID-19 Medical Treatment Group of the State Council", USTC sent experts to Wuhan to guide and participate directly in medical treatment on February 25. The plan has been applied in several hospitals in Wuhan and achieved initial results.

    In order to achieve classified treatment, Prof. WENG Jianping from USTC established a Self-assessment System of COVID-19 Infectious Risk in the early stage of epidemic prevention and control. From January 30 to March 6, more than 1.5 million people viewed and more than 500,000 people accepted risk assessment, realizing online screening of high-risk suspected cases and effectively reducing the psychological anxiety of non-suspected people. On February 5, a "cohort research and bioinformatics platform" was established. The platform reported asymptomatic virus carriers after diagnosis for the first time. Moreover, COVID-19 nucleic acid detection kit (RNA capture probe method, PCR fluorescence probe method, etc.) has been developed, and relevant products have entered the recommended list of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

    USTC also made full use of the traditional accumulation of science, actively explored the cross integration with medicine, and put into the front-line work of scientific anti-epidemic. In response to the national emergency needs and based on the accumulation of basic research in the fields of organic chemistry, chemical biology and biomaterials, the School of Chemistry and Materials science has realized the development of full chain column free chromatography synthesis process and kg scale laboratory synthesis. Part of the process technology has been transferred to the relevant pharmaceutical companies for further mass production. Researchers of plasma health team from the School of Physical Sciences, using long-term research accumulation and cooperation with the First Affiliated Hospital, has initially completed the development of plasma portable sterilization equipment for medical staff. At present, it has been put into trial at Hefei south station. IFLYTEK has preliminarily completed the construction of "COVID-19 Image Aided Diagnosis Platform"; by using AI technology as well as its rich product system, in combination with the actual needs of clinical diagnosis in the First Affiliated Hospital. It can complete one COVID-19 assisted diagnosis in 3 seconds, providing accurate and efficient reference for doctors.

    The support of the Clinical Research Hospital of CAS (Hefei) is very important for the progress of this series of scientific research. Based on the establishment of the Life Sciences and Medicine Department and the First Affiliated Hospital of USTC, the clinical research hospital adheres to the "integrated development of life science and medicine" proposed by the “USTC New Medicine”. At present, it has made a series of progress and breakthroughs in many aspects involving the comprehensive prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, becoming a demonstration center for COVID-19 research.

    (Written by YANG Xinqi, edited by LU Hongyu, USTC News Center. Materials provided by Development and Reform Office, Scientific Research Department.)


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