A Note from Dr. Joanne Weidhaas and Mirakind about our COVID-19 Response
At MiraKind, we believe knowledge is power. That belief has never held truer than today, as we face a global pandemic that can only be stamped out with knowledge--knowledge of who is infected so that we can prevent further spread of the highly contagious virus known as COVID-19. Here’s how we can help…
I am a radiation oncologist and geneticist by training, and I have spent my career trying to better understand how our individual genetic information can help guide patients towards more personalized cancer prevention and treatment strategies. In 2009, I founded MiraDx, a molecular diagnostics company, to research a recently discovered class of novel biomarkers associated with cancer risk. Over the last several years, our research has uncovered important findings about how an individual’s genetic information can help them make important personalized decisions about cancer prevention and care, ranging from radiation and chemotherapy treatment options to whether or not hormone replacement therapy may actually help lower cancer risk. Based on the firm belief that patients should have access to this genetic information to enable agency in their own healthcare decisions, in partnership with their physicians, we founded MiraDx’s sister nonprofit, MiraKind, in 2013. We are proud to have built MiraKind into a thriving platform for sharing our research findings and stories with our MiraKind community. We are now leveraging the MiraDx/MiraKind partnership to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the COVID-19 crisis today.
The COVID-19 Testing Challenge
As COVID-19 grew into a global pandemic, it soon emerged that our nation was facing a dire shortage of tests to determine whether someone was infected with this highly contagious virus. Our team at MiraDx and MiraKind immediately put our heads together to see how we could help. MiraDx’s research is focused on DNA biomarkers that disrupt the non-coding sections where RNAs function, which are strongly implicated in cancer biology. As it turns out, COVID-19 is actually an RNA virus, which means that much of the same equipment and protocols used in our lab for cancer-related research could be used to test for the virus. With this realization, we quickly mobilized to plan the transition and build up the resources to begin processing COVID-19 tests in the MiraDx lab at a high capacity for those most in need.
COVID-19 and The Essential Workforce
While COVID-19 has proven to be deadly, many people who become infected may only experience mild to moderate symptoms, while others remain completely asymptomatic. Yet these individuals are highly contagious, exposing anyone with whom they come into contact with to risk of infection. We believe that this issue is most challenging for our essential workforce who is providing mission-critical services to people in need. From ICU physicians and nurses, oncologists, and caregivers for the elderly, to first responders, pharmacists, and those working in the food supply chain, these essential workers are at highest risk of exposure, while also being in contact with people who may be at the greatest risk of deadly infections if exposed. As such, we believe these essential workers represent one of the highest priority groups for providing testing as early and broadly as possible.
At MiraKind, our goal is to provide these essential workers with easy and affordable access to COVID-19 testing, empowering them with the knowledge they need to protect their own health, so they can best serve their patients and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed us all, but we have the opportunity to change the trajectory, starting now.
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We currently have tests available for distribution, and we’ll be scaling up as quickly as possible in the coming weeks, in the effort to make hundreds of thousands of tests available.
In keeping with federal regulations, our lab is CLIA-certified (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and the MiraDx COVID-19 test kits have been developed in line with the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization requirements.