CAMBRIDGE AND WETHERBY, UK — August 7, 2020 — Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (“LSTM”) to clinically validate the rapid, saliva-based coronavirus antigen test that Avacta is developing with Cytiva.
LSTM has been at the forefront of research into infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases since 1898 and was the first institution in the world dedicated to research and teaching in tropical medicine. It has a research portfolio of around £320 million and projects and partnerships in more than 70 countries.
Under the terms of the collaboration, LSTM will carry out the clinical validation of the Avacta COVID-19 antigen rapid saliva test in their category 3 laboratories on patient samples. In addition to working with the UK government’s CONDOR program to provide Avacta with access to patient samples in the UK, the partnership with LSTM also provides the opportunity to access patient samples in Africa and South America. The higher prevalence of the disease in those regions means that samples for prospective clinical validation studies are more readily available which, if necessary, could be used to speed up the validation process.
Clinical validation is the process of evaluating the performance of a diagnostic test using real patient samples. Clinical validation generates the sensitivity and specificity performance parameters which are most often used to define the performance of a diagnostic test.
LSTM is currently evaluating the performance of prototype lateral flow tests provided by Cytiva alongside Avacta’s ELISA laboratory test using SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus samples, as a precursor to full clinical validation studies.
Dr. Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta Group, commented: “I am delighted to have established this collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It is an important partnership which provides Avacta with access to patient samples both in the UK and abroad, where the incidence of the disease is currently much higher, to ensure prompt access to a sufficient number of samples for clinical validation.
We have been working with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine for some time to define the target performance specifications of the saliva-based rapid test and their insight has been tremendously helpful in this regard.
I look forward to updating the market on further progress in due course.”
Dr. Lisa Baldwin, business development manager, LSTM commented: “The partnership between Avacta and LSTM exemplifies the role of the LSTM in translational work to advance products to market and we are pleased to be working with Avacta on this coronavirus antigen test.”