Positive initial results to devise rapid test for COVID-19

Life sciences business Avacta Group says its partnership to develop a rapid, saliva-based test for COVID-19 is making significant progress.

The Wetherby-based listed company says the first Affimer-based test strips to detect SARS-COV-2 spike protein in the saliva of patients with COVID-19 have been developed and evaluated by its partners at Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences) and show positive initial results.

In mid-May Avacta provided Affimer reagents that are specific to the SARS-COV-2 spike protein to Cytiva, which has now developed the first lateral flow test strips using these reagents and generated initial performance data using Coronavirus spike protein.

These data show the test strips detect the spike protein in model samples at concentrations within the clinical range found in saliva of patients with COVID-19.

Work continues to refine the test strip design, optimise its performance and get the best detection limit possible in order to generate the highest sensitivity in the final rapid test product.

Following the optimisation of the lateral flow test by Cytiva, the design will be transferred to manufacturing partners in the UK.

Avacta says it is working with these manufacturers to compress the normal manufacturing, clinical validation and regulatory timelines to bring a product to market as quickly as possible.

Dr Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta, said: “I am delighted with the progress made by our partners at Cytiva and very encouraged by the positive data from the first test devices.

“We now need to optimise the test performance to achieve the best possible limit of detection, as this will ultimately play a significant factor in determining the clinical sensitivity of the test.

“This is a really positive step and we aim to have completed the optimisation very soon so we can begin the transfer to manufacturers. I will be updating the market on progress in due course.”