Dascena Announces Tracking of COVID-19 UK Variant Cases in Harris County
Updated: Feb 7
Houston, TX – January 25, 2021 – Dascena, Inc., a machine learning diagnostic algorithm company that is targeting early disease intervention to improve patient care outcomes, today announced the potential of its COVID-19 test to detect the UK or B.1.1.7 variant, the new strain of COVID-19 that carries multiple novel mutations, including 8 in the spike (S) protein, a critical component necessary for viral infection. On January 7, 2021, the B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in Harris County, TX, and currently accounts for less than 1% of the tests analyzed by Dascena. Dascena is aiding in Texas Department of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) statewide COVID-19 response with their ability to mobilize sites, provide reliable testing, and react to the changing testing landscape as one of TDEM's partner lab groups.
“We are very pleased to be able to offer comprehensive testing for multiple strains of the COVID-19 virus in Harris County,” said Jim Wingrove, Chief Scientific Officer at Dascena. “With increased, accurate testing and insight, we hope that we can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Texas and beyond.”
The TaqPath assay used by Dascena for COVID-19 testing in Harris County is a widely used test that was chosen in part due to the fact that it measures three regions of the COVID-19 virus, including one that is altered in the S protein of the UK variant. This alteration does not appear to alter the ability to detect the virus, and also allows Dascena to monitor the presence of the UK variant in Harris County.
The FDA has suggested that the change that has been observed in TaqPath assay results for individuals infected by the UK variant (S-drop out) “may help with early identification of new variants in patients to reduce further spread of infection.” It is important to note that the S-dropout is a surrogate (indirect) marker for the UK variant and has not yet been clinically validated due to the rapidly developing situation. Dascena is currently monitoring the levels of this assay change, to assist in the effort to track the presence of the new UK variant.
The CDC reports that while the U.K. strain is not believed to cause more severe disease or be deadlier in infected persons, it is believed to be about 50% more infectious than other common strains. This underscores the need to increase testing vigilance for potential exposures or symptoms. Find COVID-19 testing site locations here.
Dascena is developing machine learning diagnostic algorithms to enable early disease intervention and improve care outcomes for patients. For more information, visit dascena.com
Dan Budwick, 1AB