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Biocept, Aegea to Develop PCR-based COVID-19 Assay Using Switch-Blocker Tech

NEW YORK – Biocept and Aegea Biotechnologies said Thursday that they have signed an agreement under which they will codevelop a PCR-based COVID-19 assay using the Switch-Blocker technology co-owned by the two firms. 

Switch-Blocker is currently the core of Biocept's suite of blood-based assays for cancer mutation detection. The underlying intellectual property is jointly owned by Biocept and Aegea, with Aegea holding exclusive rights in the field of infectious disease, and Biocept has certain rights within the field of clinical oncology.

Applying the method to COVID-19, the companies said they believe they can create a test with improved analytical performance compared to other available tests. According to Biocept, the test is designed to incorporate unique capabilities to increase the sensitivity in detecting SARS-CoV-2 and to provide additional information on specific strain types.

Under the new COVID-19 diagnostic agreement, Biocept has first option to negotiate a license agreement for commercialization in its CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited high-complexity molecular lab of any resulting assay.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

In a statement, Biocept President and CEO Michael Nall said that if successfully developed, the test could offer competitive advantages, helping Biocept expand the COVID-19 testing capability it has been pursuing in recent months in an effort to generate revenue during the pandemic. Before this year, the company's efforts were exclusively focused on the oncology market.