Avacta to co-develop, manufacture rapid test for COVID-19

An Affimer molecule

Wetherby-based biopharma, Avacta Group, is collaborating with Cytiva to develop and manufacture a rapid test for COVID-19.

Together with Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences), AIM listed Avacta will manufacture a point-of-care rapid test based on its Affirmer biotherapeutic technology.

The test will be intended for screening of large populations to diagnose the COVID-19 coronavirus infection.

Avacta is already generating Affimer reagents that detect the COVID-19 virus and together with Cytiva will develop and manufacture a test capable of diagnosing the infection in minutes using a respiratory sample such as saliva.

Cytiva will transfer this diagnostic assay onto its proprietary point-of-care test strip platform and both companies will work together to complete analytical and clinical validation of the test as quickly as possible.

Avacta will own the intellectual property relating to the COVID-19 Affimer-reagents and will retain all the commercial rights to future products.

Further commercial details have not been disclosed.

“Importantly the test will indicate if a person has the virus now, whether they are showing symptoms or not, and will do so in minutes, in-situ with no need for laboratory equipment,2 said Avacta CEO, Dr Alastair Smith.

He added: “We have demonstrated before in the case of the Zika virus that the Affimer platform can very quickly provide highly specific reagents in response to an outbreak of an infectious disease.

“Our partnership with Cytiva means that we now have a global technology partner for a COVID-19 diagnostic which is essential if a practical and commercial solution is to be provided to governments and healthcare providers around the world promptly.

“Hundreds of millions of tests will be needed for population screening and we will be working hard to deliver an Affimer based solution on Cytiva’s platform, and potentially on the platforms of other partners with whom we are in active discussion, as soon as possible.

“We are aiming to have developed Affimer reagents for a COVID-19 test by the end of May that can be transferred to Cytiva and potentially to other global diagnostic manufacturers to implement in a test strip.”