UVA’s Phil Bourne and Cam Mura, together with Robert Preissner (Charité-Berlin), are using real-world evidence (RWE) to better understand COVID-19. Specifically, the trans-Atlantic team aims to (i) learn statistical correlates of the disease’s severity and susceptibility patterns, on an international scale (e.g., usage of anti-hypertensives), and (ii) identify critical points in the coronavirus infectivity cycle that could serve as molecular targets for the design and development of new, efficacious therapeutics.

The infective agent underlying COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. In particular, SARS-CoV-2 targets a physiological pathway known as the “renin-angiotensin system” (RAS), which is intimately linked to hypertension.  Using structural biology and biophysics, and guided by RWE, can we target pathways such as RAS in order to interfere with SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and uptake? Is there any evidence, based on electronic health records (EHRs), of a correlation between usage of anti-hypertensive drugs and one’s susceptibility to COVID-19 (or the severity of infection)?  Analyses of EHRs, and development of RWE from such records, can be used to address these questions and, ultimately, to identify promising target points in these pathways.