Mechelen, Belgium, 24 March 2020 - The coronavirus has brought the whole world to a standstill. The Belgian company ElmediX wants to contain the virus with intensive heat treatments for corona patients. Controlled heating to 41.5 °C for three hours can inactivate the virus and activate the patient's immune system. ElmediX has launched a call to researchers and doctors and makes the technology available in the fight against the coronavirus.
How does it work?
Fever and a strong immune response are the two foundations of a natural reaction against infections. But in the case of an aggressive viral infection such as the new coronavirus COVID-19, the fever remains limited and our immune system does not function optimally. As a result, the virus spreads uncontrollably throughout the entire body. Professor John-Paul Bogers, the driving force behind ElmediX, explains:
"Viruses are heat-sensitive. By heating the entire body in a controlled manner to 41.5 °C, we can potentially accelerate the elimination of the virus particles by making them fall apart. In addition, the viral antigens (pieces of the virus) that are released in the process boost the natural immune system. They act as a sort of natural self-vaccination and can provide long-term protection."
ElmediX, founded as a spin-off of the University of Antwerp, has submitted a European project proposal to obtain accelerated funding to test if this approach slows down or even stops the infection in patients infected with COVID-19. Professor John-Paul Bogers:
"With our treatment we can, theoretically, drastically reduce the number of viruses in the patient. In this way, we hope to slow down the flow of patients to the intensive care unit with active ventilation, 'flattening the curve'. In the meantime, the patient's immune system is supported and strengthened in order to build up adequate protection. Before implementing this strategy, a number of limited laboratory experiments must first be carried out. We are already in discussion with a number of laboratories that can do this quickly. We are also ready to test this on patients as soon as possible; the clinical device is ready. Of course, this roll-out also requires a financial injection, for which we have applied for European funding. But, naturally, other funding can also speed up the delivery of our technology to the patient".
Controlled heating is essential
This seemingly simple idea requires accurate technology to avoid damage to healthy cells and organs. Heating must be done very precisely and in a controlled manner. The patient is placed under anaesthesia in a device where the temperature throughout the body is accurately measured and controlled by ultra-sensitive sensors.
Call to hospitals to join forces
ElmediX has the technology ready and wants to test this technology as soon as possible, to make this treatment available to the doctors who are currently fighting the coronavirus.
ElmediX developed a technology platform that can be used to heat the body very precisely, in a controlled and safe way. ElmediX uses this technology in the fight against difficult-to-treat tumours, such as pancreatic cancer. There is a great deal of interest in this innovative approach within the world of oncology. The treatment increases the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemo- or radiotherapy. Combination with new drugs is also being tested, in collaboration with a number of pharmaceutical companies. This treatment, which relies partly on natural mechanisms of the body, can also be used to combat viral and microbial infections.
ElmediX’s technology is the first capable of administering exact thermal doses safely. The company was founded in 2015 as a spin-off of the University of Antwerp. Building on successful results that demonstrated safety and efficacy in animal models and in vitro, the first-in-human clinical research will start soon.