Avacta partners US firm to develop a test for Covid-19

Drug developer Avacta has entered into a new collaboration with US firm Adeptrix to develop an antigen test to diagnose Covid-19.

Dr Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta

The test will use hospitals’ existing equipment, which will contribute significantly to the increase in global testing capacity.

The two companies aim to have a test ready for validation, approval and manufacturing in June.

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Wetherby-based Avacta and Adeptrix will develop and manufacture a coronavirus antigen test that will provide a significant expansion of the available testing capacity for Covid-19 infection in hospitals.

The new collaboration means hundreds of samples per day can be analysed by a single technician.

The diagnostic test will allow hospitals around the world to use their existing installed base of mass spectrometers that are not currently used for Covid-19 testing. Adeptrix and Avacta are already in discussion with large-scale manufacturing partners to rapidly deploy the new test.

Dr Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta, said: “We are delighted to have established this partnership with Adeptrix in our push to develop Affimer-based Covid-19 antigen tests.

“Jeff and his team are world-renowned in the mass spectrometry field, and the BAMS diagnostic platform is highly sensitive and specific, giving us great confidence that a high performance Covid-19 antigen test can be developed and launched commercially very quickly.”

Affimers are Avacta’s high-tech alternative to antibodies.

“We believe that the BAMS test will be hugely attractive as an adjunct to PCR testing because it uses laboratory equipment that is already in hospital labs, but not currently used for Covid-19 testing so it provides incremental testing capacity,” said Dr Smith.

“A consensus view is building around the world that hundreds of millions of Covid-19 tests are going to be required per month for a long period, and that the disease will be endemic after the initial pandemic has passed, meaning that testing for Covid-19 is going to be needed for many years.”

Dr Jeffrey Silva, director of product development at Adeptrix, added: “I am pleased to have Avacta recognise the promise of the BAMS technology with respect to its sensitivity, accuracy and high throughput capacity.

“I have worked with Affimers previously and have found them to be excellent immunoassay reagents, so we are looking forward to quickly implementing the SARS-COV-2 Affimers in a BAMS diagnostic test.

“We are excited to be working with Avacta to rapidly develop BAMS tests and supply them to clinical diagnostic laboratories.”

Analyst Mark Brewer at FinnCap said: “This collaboration provides further evidence of the potential utility and value of Affimers.”