The World Health Organization (WHO) recently highlighted the need for the development of rapid tests to quickly diagnose COVID-19 at point-of-care to assist in limiting and tracking infections. Existing tests are not suitable for screening large numbers of people for the infection as they are laboratory-based and it can take up to several days to get the results.
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.
“I am delighted that we have established this collaboration with Cytiva to develop, manufacture and commercialize a rapid test for COVID-19 infection,” said Alastair Smith, chief executive officer, Avacta Group. “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. 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.”
Avacta said it is aiming to have developed Affimer reagents for a COVID-19 test by the end of May that can be transferred to Cytiva.
Klaus Hochleitner, global lead, technology product specialist, Cytiva, said, “There is an urgent unmet need for rapid tests to screen large numbers of people for COVID-19. Affimers are tools that can be designed quickly and very specifically for specific epitopes. We will support Avacta with technology transfer and usability to ensure the test is ready at the earliest point for use in the field.”