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Avacta, Medusa19 Ink Direct-to-Consumer Distribution Agreement for Coronavirus Antigen Test

NEW YORK ─ Avacta said Wednesday it has entered into an exclusive global distribution agreement with Medusa19 for the sales and marketing of Avacta's saliva-based rapid test for the COVID-19 antigen.

The deal involves distribution of the rapid test directly to consumers globally, subject to the necessary regulatory approvals, Avacta said. Further, Medusa19 has non-exclusive rights to supply the tests to businesses for workforce testing. The distribution agreement includes a profit-sharing arrangement.  

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Medusa19 ─ established by Richard Hughes and Mahmud Kamani, shareholders of Avacta and founder shareholders of fashion e-commerce firm ─ has an initial focus on home testing and is investing in a global e-commerce, logistics, and customer support infrastructure to prepare for the launch of Avacta’s COVID-19 rapid test.

Avacta, a developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, is designing the rapid test with partners for use by healthcare professionals and consumers and to provide results within minutes. The Wetherby, UK-based company recently announced a partnership with Cytiva, formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences and now part of Danaher, to develop a saliva-based rapid antigen-test strip that indicates whether a person has the coronavirus infection that causes COVID-19.

The test is intended to enable people with the COVID-19 infection, whether they have symptoms or not, to be identified before antibodies have been generated by the body.

Avacta said it has rapidly developed Affimer reagents that detect the SARS-COV-2 virus spike protein and supplied those to Cytiva for test development. Medusa19 said it will enable end-to-end supply of the tests on a global basis subject to regulatory approval and manufacturing capacity, which will be key.

Avacta said it is seeking to collaborate with rapid test-strip manufacturing partners in anticipation of high demand for its antigen test. The global demand for rapid antigen tests could be many millions of tests per month, Avacta said, adding the tests will be critical to lockdown exit strategies and getting healthy, non-contagious people back to work. The company said it anticipates there will also be an ongoing need for several years for this type of testing as the disease recurs.

Given this test is saliva based, it could be used in airports, offices, factories, and in the home environment with no requirement for medical supervision, according to Medusa19.

Avacta recently announced a collaboration with Adeptrix to develop a high-throughput COVID-19 antigen test.