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Qiagen, TScan Therapeutics Partner to Develop COVID-19 Immune Response Test

NEW YORK – TScan Therapeutics said on Tuesday that it has signed a research license and option agreement with Qiagen to develop T cell-based laboratory tests to detect prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2 using discoveries from TScan's high-throughput T-cell receptor (TCR)/target discovery platform.

Under the terms of the agreement, Qiagen has secured an option to license the rights and intellectual property for several of TScan's discovered immunodominant T-cell targets, associated sequences, and relevant data for the development and commercialization of in vitro diagnostic tests. Qiagen also has the right to further evaluate TScan's discoveries.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Current tests for prior exposure to coronavirus rely on the detection of antibodies, which tend to diminish within a couple of months of being infected with the virus," Gavin MacBeath, chief scientific officer at Waltham, Massachusetts-based TScan, said in a statement. "We believe that detecting anti-viral T cells based on our discoveries will provide a more reliable way to determine exposure to SARS-CoV-2 over a much longer period following infection. If the presence of anti-viral T cells can be linked to protection from future infection, a test like this may ultimately provide valuable information on the course of the pandemic and how to return safely to normal life."

The immunodominant targets included in the agreement were identified through TScan's TCR/target discovery platform, which enabled rapid and comprehensive mapping of the specific epitopes in SARS-CoV-2 that are recognized by the CD8+ T cells of patients recovering from COVID-19. A study conducted by the company and its collaborators showed that patients' T cells do not cross-react with seasonal coronaviruses that cause the common cold, decreasing the likelihood that a T cell-based diagnostic test would result in false-positive results.