Commercial potential for waste water Covid-19 detection

Dr Alastair Smith

Life sciences business Avacta Group has become the second Yorkshire firm to partner with Integumen on Covid-19 detection systems for wastewater.

The Wetherby-based listed firm has entered into a collaboration agreement with Integumen to evaluate its recently generated Affimer reagents that detect the virus.

The Affimer reagents will be tesred in next-generation sensors, based on the real-time bacteria detection and alert system1 developed by Rinocloud Ltd, a subsidiary of Integumen, with the aim of integrating these sensors into Modern Water plc’s Microtox water contamination system to detect the coronavirus. This agreement follows the announcement in June that Integumen was working with York-based Aptamer group to develop and manufacture aptamers to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.

Once initial testing is completed over the next few weeks, validation of the Avacta sensors will be carried out using SARS-COV-2 virus samples in a containment level 3 laboratory at the University of Aberdeen. Upon successful completion of this evaluation, Integumen and Avacta will enter into a supply agreement to allow Integumen to manufacture and commercialise the waste water detection sensors globally by retrofitting into Microtox systems. With the proposed Affimer sensors a consumable item which needs to be replaced on a roughly monthly basis.

Dr. Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Avacta Group, said: “I am very pleased to be entering into this collaboration with Integumen, which holds substantial commercial potential for an Affimer-based consumable SARS-COV-2 detector unit to retrofit into the globally-installed base of Microtox systems.

“With the spread of Covid-19 continuing to accelerate globally, we are proud to work with partners like Integumen to provide our Affimer reagents for development on a range of platforms to combat the pandemic. This collaboration has the potential to deliver a product that will play a crucial role in the early detection of COVID-19 hotspots around the world.”

Gerard Brandon, CEO of Integumen and Chairman of Modern Water plc, added: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Avacta, adding their highly specific and robust Affimer reagents to our real-time alert arsenal of pathogen capture devices for the Covid-19 virus in sewage. The global pandemic has highlighted waste water as a potential early warning hotspot detection opportunity and the inclusion of Affimer reagents adds an established method of capturing the virus to a widely used pathogen alert system.”


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