Not every Swiss start-up involved in Covid-19 research is developing a therapy. Companies also support researchers with digital tools, bioanalytical instruments and the production of proteins.

Swiss start-ups are very active in the quest for therapies against Covid-19. You can find several examples in our article from 5 May. According to the weekly updated view of the Covid-19 product pipeline creates by BIO’a Industry Analysis Team, Swiss companies run 25 different therapeutic programmes – more than companies from UK (22), Germany (21) or France (12). However the Swiss Life Sciences Industry is also very strong when it comes to tools for research programs. Three examples show how diverse the tools are that Swiss start-ups offer to support the fight against Covid-19.

Follow-up of corona patients
There are still many questions related to the coronavirus that have not yet been answered: How quickly do COVID-19 patients recover after a hospital stay? Which factors influence the recovery? A research project currently being launched by a consortium of the University Hospital Zurich (USZ), ETH, and aims to provide answers. The research project will investigate the improvement of symptoms, lung function and quality of life of people hospitalized due to SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated severe lung disease up to lung failure. The project is set up as an observational study. Patients are monitored after leaving the USZ by means of surveys that they receive via the secure smartphone app from and additionally via a home monitoring system. The specialists at the USZ have the opportunity to have the subjective and objective data of the patients captured outside the hospital setting displayed in a clearly structured manner via a dashboard provided by from their workplace.

Protein for COVID-19 research campaign
LeadXpro has joined forces with a network of Swiss academic and industrial collaborators, including PSI, ETH Zürich, Creoptix AG and many others, to contribute to research efforts coordinated by the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force. One key viral target is the Covid-19 M-protein, a surface protein critical for viral capsid assembly. leadXpro has developed a method to produce this membrane protein in a purified, crystallization-grade form, drawing on its deep expertise in working with challenging membrane proteins for pharmaceutical study. The protein represents an essential research tool and its high quality ensures successful application in research projects.

Characterize anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies
Creoptix AG, a Switzerland-based company focused on next-generation bioanalytical instruments, announced recently its collaboration with Adriano Aguzzi, Professor for Neuropathology, University of Zurich, to characterize immunological responses to SARS-CoV-2* such as IgA, IgM and IgG antibodies, which signal whether an individual has been exposed to the Coronavirus. Prof. Adriano Aguzzi, explains: “Antibodies are formidable weapons against viruses and that’s the basis of all vaccines. However, antibodies can also facilitate the entry of viruses into cells, thereby causing friendly fire. One determinant of such behaviors is the affinity of antibodies for their targets. In collaboration with Creoptix, we strive to determine the affinity of antisera from COVID-19 patients for their targets. We hope that such investigation may help understand why some patients recover fully from COVID-19 whereas others develop lethal disease.”