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In Brief This Week: BioReference Laboratories, Biocartis, Broad Institute, and More

NEW YORK – Opko Health’s BioReference Laboratories said this week that it is partnering with New York City, the city’s Department of Health, and New York City Health and Hospital Corporation to test school principals, teachers, and other staff members for COVID-19 in preparation for school reopening. Specimens will be collected across eight locations in the five boroughs until Sept. 7. In May, the city paid BioReference $150 million to analyze COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests until July 25.


Biocartis said this week that it has expanded a collaboration with UK-based Life Arc, with a new license and development agreement to develop infectious and immune-related disease assays on Biocartis’ Idylla platform. The partnership, which is a continuation of the group’s 2017 collaboration, will allow LifeArc to obtain a non-exclusive license to use the Idylla platform to develop assays to support patient stratification and treatment monitoring for individuals with bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.


The Broad Institute said this week it is partnering with 108 public and private colleges and universities in Massachusetts and the surrounding region to provide regular COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff, as part of back-to-school plans. Among the more than 415,000 tests conducted so far as part of the college and university testing program, the positive rate across students, faculty, and staff is approximately 0.1 percent — or 1 in 1,000, the Broad said.

Samples are being collected by the institutions. The Broad collects the samples from the schools and processes the tests at a cost of $25 per test. In March, the Broad’s Genomics Platform converted its existing CLIA-certified laboratory into a high-throughput COVID-19 test processing center, and has processed more than 1.1 million COVID-19 tests since then, returning results in about 24 hours on average.

Colleges and universities engaging in the Broad’s testing program include Amherst College, Bard College, Barnard College, Boston College, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Fordham University, Harvard University, MIT, Mount Holyoke College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Skidmore College, Smith College, St. Lawrence University, Tufts, UMass Amherst, University of Connecticut, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, and Yale, among many others.


Avacta Group announced this week that it has signed an agreement for Abingdon Health to manufacture Avacta’s saliva-based rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen test in a move to expand manufacturing capacity. Avacta is developing the rapid test strip with Cytiva. The test may be used for frequent mass testing, and the firm said it is planning to begin clinical validation as soon as possible. Avacta also noted that Abingdon’s two sites in the UK can produce millions of rapid tests per month and that the partnership will likely expand manufacturing capacity to several million tests per month. Technology transfer to Abingdon will begin immediately. 


Tecan said this week it has signed an exclusive distribution agreement in the US with Thomas Scientific to support the sales of Tecan’s detection instruments and consumables portfolio in the country. According to a Tecan spokesperson, the company already has direct sales representation in the US, but the Thomas Scientific deal will help it to reach a wider customer base. The agreement covers a broad range of instruments and consumables including single-mode and multi-mode plate readers and washers, the automated liquid handling workstations Fluent and Freedom EVO, and consumables such as disposable tips and labware.


In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on 360Dx.