Menarini Silicon Biosystems Explores New Application for Circulating Endothelial Cells in COVID-19

Enumeration of Circulating Endothelial Cells (CECs) with CELLSEARCH platform may offer a new tool for investigating the role of the damaged endothelium in SARS-CoV-2 infection and clinical manifestation.

Bologna, Italy -- Menarini Silicon Biosystems, a global leader in liquid biopsy and rare cells technologies, today announces that it is exploring the possible use of its proprietary CELLSEARCH technology to study the progression of COVID-19 disease --and to potentially identify patients who may be at risk of developing the most severe complications of the disease.

“In this global health crisis we are applying all our resources, in terms of technology and know-how, to provide to researchers and clinicians new instruments to better understand COVID-19 pathogenesis,” said Fabio Piazzalunga, President of Menarini Silicon Biosystems.

When the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, infects the lungs, it directly targets both components of the lung epithelial-endothelial barrier, through a receptor called angiotensin‐converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). That can damage the cells lining the inner surface of the blood vessels in the lungs, or the endothelium. The damaged endothelium then may play a central role in amplifying and perpetuating the pro-inflammatory cascade that can lead to the most severe COVID-19 complication, known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Many studies have shown that a very specific and sensitive marker of endothelial damage in a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular events, is the number of endothelial cells that are circulating in the bloodstream. Menarini’s CELLSEARCH technology is able to automatically capture and precisely count these Circulating Endothelial Cells (CECs). As a result, the technology could represent an important new tool for investigating the role of the damaged endothelium in COVID-19 clinical manifestation. In particular, an increase in CEC count may predict the onset and worsening of respiratory distress and cardiovascular events due to the pro-inflammatory cascade.

“Given the mounting evidence of the important involvement of the cardiovascular system in the most severe forms of COVID-19, we are now offering an accurate and validated system to study the role of the endothelium during SARS-CoV-2 infection through the analysis of CECs,” explained Piazzalunga.

The CELLSEARCH Circulating Endothelial Cell Kit*, produced in the company’s manufacturing facility in Huntingdon Valley (US) and used in conjunction with the CELLSEARCH platform, enumerates CECs by immuno-magnetically capturing CD146-positive cells from whole blood. The technology has been extensively validated in different settings, such as cardiovascular, neoplastic and autoimmune diseases, as reported in 30 peer-reviewed papers.

* For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures. The performance characteristics, safety, and effectiveness have not been established and are not cleared or approved by the FDA.