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Avacta to Launch SARS-CoV-2 ELISA Laboratory Test
Avacta to make a high performance Affimer research ELISA test available to support global research efforts to combat the coronavirus
Avacta Group plc, the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that it will launch an ELISA laboratory test for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to support global research efforts into the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (“ELISAs”) are very common research tools used to detect and quantify a target of interest in a wide range of samples. Using the same Affimer reagents that are incorporated into its rapid coronavirus saliva test being developed with Cytiva, Avacta has developed in-house a high performance ELISA laboratory test to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Avacta will make the ELISA test available as a kit so that researchers globally can use it in their own laboratories to support research into the coronavirus.
The Affimer-based ELISA test is capable of detecting the coronavirus spike protein in laboratory samples down to very low concentrations. An evaluation of the ELISA carried out with The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine using SARS-CoV-2 virus samples shows that it can detect as little as a few thousand virus infectious units per millilitre of sample. This is typical of the levels found in infectious COVID-19 patients’ saliva whether they are symptomatic or not. Highly infectious COVID-19 patients can have many thousands or millions of times more spike protein in their saliva than this
The Affimer-based ELISA test is also highly specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus with no cross-reactivity against other closely related coronavirus spike proteins.
Avacta plans to supply the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein ELISA reagent kit directly and is also in active discussions with potential OEM partners and distributors globally.
Dr. Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Avacta Group, commented: “I am delighted with the outstanding performance of the Affimer-based ELISA test developed in-house by Avacta and that we will shortly make this powerful laboratory research tool available to support global research efforts to study the virus and develop ways to combat the pandemic.
Avacta remains focused on the much larger opportunity of the saliva-based coronavirus antigen rapid test that we are developing with Cytiva and which is now in the process of technology transfer to our manufacturing partners. The excellent analytical performance of the ELISA test is very encouraging with regards to the anticipated clinical performance of the rapid test and I look forward to starting the clinical validation with the first pilot batch of rapid tests as soon as possible.”
About Avacta Group plc
Avacta is developing novel cancer immunotherapies combining its two proprietary platforms - Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISION™ tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current immunotherapies experienced by most patients. The Company’s therapeutics development activities are based in Cambridge, UK.
The Company benefits from near-term revenues generated from Affimer reagents for diagnostics, bioprocessing and research, through a separate business unit based in Wetherby, UK.
The Affimer platform is an alternative to antibodies derived from a small human protein. Despite their shortcomings, antibodies currently dominate markets worth in excess of $100bn. Affimer technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally: the time taken, and the reliance on an animal’s immune response, to generate new antibodies; poor specificity in many cases; large size and cost.
Avacta’s pre|CISION targeted chemotherapy platform, releases active chemotherapy only in the tumour, thereby limiting systemic exposure and damage to healthy tissues, and thereby improving the overall safety and therapeutic potential of these powerful anti-cancer treatments.
By combining these two platforms the Company is building a wholly owned pipeline of novel cancer therapies with the aim of creating effective treatments for all cancer patients including those who do not respond to existing immunotherapies. Avacta expects to take its first drug, a pre|CISION targeted form of the standard-of-care Doxorubicin, into the clinic later in 2020 or early 2021.
Avacta has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including with Moderna Therapeutics Inc., a deal with LG Chem worth up to $310m, a partnership with ADC Therapeutics to develop Affimer drug conjugates and has established a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical focused on cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer immune-modulators. Avacta actively seeks to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.
Avacta diagnostics business unit works with partners world-wide to develop Affimers for evaluation by those third parties with the objective of establishing royalty bearing license deals. The Company is also developing a small in-house pipeline of Affimer-based diagnostic assays for licensing.