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In Brief This Week: PerkinElmer, Qiagen, BioReference Laboratories, AstraZeneca, and More

NEW YORK – PerkinElmer subsidiary Oxford Immunotec said this week that its T-Spot Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit will be used for T-cell testing in the UK's Determining the Immune Response in Ethnic minority health workers to COVID-19 infection, or DIRECT, study. Healthcare workers in Leicester are being recruited for a study of their immune response to infection or vaccination. Along with online questionnaires, the analysis will allow researchers to understand if there are differences in the immune response to COVID-19 in different ethnic minority groups. A custom version of the T-Spot Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit is being used for the study to see if vaccination leads to an immune response in the study’s subjects.

Separately this week, PerkinElmer’s board declared a quarterly dividend of $.07 per share of common stock, payable on Aug. 6 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 16.

TScan Therapeutics, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based company primarily developing T cell receptor-engineered T cell therapies for cancer treatment, filed for a $100 million IPO this week. In the process, the firm disclosed details about an agreement it made in November with Qiagen to develop a COVID-19 immune response test using T cell response to detect prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Terms of the option and license agreement called for Qiagen to pay TScan a one-time $150,000 fee for an option to obtain an exclusive, royalty-bearing, sublicensable, worldwide license to patents and applications related to SARS-CoV-2 peptides used in the development of the assay, according to an S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Qiagen exercised the option on April 14 and is required to pay an additional $150,000 in return. In addition, Qiagen is required to pay TScan a one-time $300,000 milestone payment upon launch of its first in vitro diagnostic product containing the licensed peptides; and is required to pay TScan low- to mid-single-digit percentage royalties on net sales of any products containing the peptides.

In its 10-Q form filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Opko Health said the $16.5 million settlement it agreed to for a class action lawsuit had been given final approval by the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, had alleged that the company and its CEO Phillip Frost participated in market manipulation schemes that generated more than $27 million in unlawful stock sales.

Separately this week, Opko subsidiary BioReference Laboratories announced that its deal to provide COVID-19 testing for Major League Soccer was renewed for a second year. BioReference will offer laboratory-based PCR testing and point-of-care testing for SARS-CoV-2 to players, match officials, and team staffs. The laboratory is also working with MLS team New England Revolution to test fans with field-level seats before home games.

Specific Diagnostics said this week that the US Department of Defense has awarded the firm a grant to use its Reveal Rapid AST System for the rapid assessment of the effectiveness of bacteriophage in expressing pathogens. A company spokesman declined to disclose the financial and other terms of the award. According to Mountain View, California-based Specific Dx, the Reveal system can determine bacterial susceptibility to antimicrobial drugs in an average of five hours. For the DoD award, it conducted preliminary demonstrations of the system, showing it can be used to test bacterial susceptibility to phage therapy.

The University of Birmingham said this week that its spinout ChromaTwist has secured £300,000 ($417,404) in seed funding to develop fluorescent materials for biosensing and bioimaging tests for diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The financing includes £250,000 in private equity investment from angel investors and a £50,000 investment from the University of Birmingham. The investment builds on initial funding of £347,000 from Innovate UK and a £90,000 funding match from ChromaTwist's directors and will enable the rapid development of tests for the flow cytometry market by the end of 2022, Birmingham said.

Veritas Intercontinental said this week that it has opened a genomics laboratory in Barcelona, Spain, that specializes in whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing of healthy individuals. The lab will serve to process and analyze samples from Europe and Latin America and expects to run more than 20,000 samples this year. The company, which was founded in 2018, was initially linked to Veritas Genetics.

Osteolabs this week announced the formation of Osteolabs UK as a joint venture between Osteolabs as the majority shareholder and Christopher Brain, a medical technology executive who has worked with IVD companies such as Abbott, Danaher's Cepheid, and Roche Diagnostics. Osteolabs UK plans to work with clinical osteoporosis professionals across the UK to ensure access to its CE-marked OsteoTest for early detection of osteoporosis, which it introduced in Germany and other European countries in 2020. Brain will serve as managing director and general manager for Osteolabs UK starting May 1.

Geneseeq Technology and AstraZeneca this week announced a collaboration to establish a cancer treatment center, called the Bio-Diagnostic Innovation Center, and a clinical diagnostics laboratory in Guangzhou, China. The center is focused on developing diagnostics platforms for cancer patients and will combine Toronto-based Geneseeq's expertise in clinical diagnostics tools and AstraZeneca's drug development experience. The center will also work to advance access to precision medicine through R&D, educational, and promotional efforts. The Guangzhou lab will be Geneseeq's fourth location in South China.

Angle this week reported preliminary full-year 2020 revenues were up 33 percent compared to the eight months ended 2019. The firm said that revenues are expected to be £800,000 ($1.1 million), compared to £600,000 a year ago. Angle plans to report a net loss for the year of £11.6 million, or £6.52 per share, compared £7.6 million, or £4.62 per share, for 2019.

Biocept said this week that it has partnered with the Foundation for California Community Colleges to make COVID-19 testing available to a network of 116 schools that together serve more than 2.1 million students. Through the Foundation's CollegeBuys program — which leverages purchasing power of the combined colleges to negotiate discounted products and services — schools in the network will now be able to purchase Biocept's PCR-based test for students when they return from what is currently a remote learning program.

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.