Nightingale today announced that their analyses of the first 125,000 blood samples from the UK Biobank data shows that biomarkers which indicate poor metabolic health and systemic inflammation, can predict the severity of COVID-19 and pneumonia years in advance. The samples screened were taken 10 years before the pandemic and the findings could, therefore, be used as predictive tools and provide immense value to institutions, companies and the society at large, as we now begin to relax the social distancing measures.
The major initiative with the UK Biobank is part of Nightingale’s long-term strategy to create data and scientific evidence-based preventative health systems and tools for everyone. “While getting results requires substantial investments and patience, we have been eager from the very beginning to combine Nightingale’s blood biomarker data with one of the world’s largest health databases, the UK Biobank. We have firmly believed that the population-scale data will reveal a variety of novel medical findings, but the promising results on COVID-19 and pneumonia even surprised us,” says Teemu Suna, founder and CEO of Nightingale Health.
Detect and protect individuals with high COVID-19 risks
The results suggest that Nightingale’s blood analysis can be used to detect seemingly healthy individuals in the population who are at high risk of being hospitalised due to COVID-19. This could potentially help in building targeted and effective prevention strategies for COVID-19 and even future pandemics.
“While vaccines and drugs play an important role with COVID-19, they are too late for many. Therefore, detecting and protecting the risk groups before they get exposed to the virus is one of the keys for effective COVID-19 strategy. Using the Nightingale blood biomarkers to identify vulnerable people could save lives as the tool could be used to isolate high-risk individuals. Once identified, the high-risk individuals are also able to take extra precautionary measures to protect themselves from the virus and eventually be prioritised for novel vaccines produced at limited capacity,” explains Teemu Suna.
Particularly, Nightingale’s blood biomarkers connected to systemic inflammation are known to predict adverse outcomes in a broad range of conditions including heart disease to diabetes. And now there is also great promise for infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and pneumonia, and evidence could be even stronger as more detailed data becomes available in UK Biobank and other studies.
“The initial findings by Nightingale’s scientists for COVID-19 and pneumonia must naturally be validated but they show great promise. By joint studies of many European cohorts, we have previously made landmark scientific findings with the Nightingale blood biomarkers as indicators of physiological and mental vulnerability. With the UK Biobank data, we strongly believe that many novel findings are waiting to be discovered. We are very excited to collaborate with Nightingale around the very promising results with COVID-19 and pneumonia,” says Dr Eline Slagboom, professor of molecular epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Better global predictive health with UK Biobank collaboration
Leading biobanks and national health initiatives are starting to demonstrate their crucial importance in building better health for everyone. Large biobanks bring together population-scale health and molecular data, and with this, enable possibilities for scientific discoveries that have not been possible before.
“The initial results with COVID-19 and pneumonia by combining Nightingale technology and the UK Biobank are truly exciting and very timely. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have completed the first batch of 125,000 samples and I’m expecting a wealth of novel findings in the near future while we continue the blood sample analyses up to 500,000 UK Biobank samples. The power of large-scale population data is immense and I’m very proud to see how Nightingale’s technology and our collaboration with the world-leading scientists are paving the way towards better global health solutions”, says Dr Peter Würtz, Founder and Scientific Director of Nightingale Health.