Project resorts to photonics and AI to predict the evolution of COVID-19 infection

A group of researchers from INESC TEC’s Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP), Centre for Biomedical Engineering Research (C-BER) and Centre for Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE), together with the spin-off iLoF, is studying the implementation of a quick and low-cost tool based on personalised medicine, in order to predict the evolution of  Covid-19 viral infection in patients.

The main goal of the project, developed in partnership with the University Hospital Centre of São João (CHUSJ) and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto – FMUP (project leader) is to accurately stratify patients and anticipate their clinical evolution. Thanks to this solution, it will be possible to differentiate patients with better or worse prognosis.

“The tool will be developed on the iLoF platform (Intelligent Lab on Fiber) – a validated and fully operational solution based on photonics and artificial intelligence algorithms, which allows the detection and identification of bio-nanostructures in liquid dispersions (blood plasma, for instance), for personalised and precision medicine”, said Joana Paiva, CTO of the iLoF.

The iLoF platform, a patented technology explored at INESC TEC’s spin-off with the same name – and currently incubated at FMUP – can register and analyse the “optical fingerprint” resulting from the interaction between light beams and specific bio-nanostructures, specifically dysregulated bio-nanostructures in the plasma, as an inflammatory response to SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers will resort to this information to stratify patients more accurately. “This initiative has an impact on Public Health. By accurately classifying patients, we can define the appropriate therapeutic strategies, and each person will benefit from a more personalised approach, adapted to their clinical needs”, explained João Tiago Guimarães, researcher at the Faculty of Medicine of U.Porto, doctor at CHUSJ and head of the project.

The project CAIRUS – COVID-19 Artificial Intelligence-based Risk Unified Stratification tool for clinical management, obtained approximately 30 thousand euros, within the scope of RESEARCH4COVID19 – a special support programme for the quick implementation of innovative solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic, funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

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