NEW YORK – The University of Oxford announced on Tuesday the expansion of a collaboration between its Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research for Molecular Diagnostics and Hong Kong-based molecular diagnostics provider Prenetics.
The three-year collaboration builds on Prenetics' successful acquisition and commercialization of Oxsed, a University of Oxford spinout, and is intended to create the next generation of its OxLAMP RaViD Direct SARS-CoV-2 rapid COVID-19 test.
OSCAR is a research and development center located outside Shanghai. Founded in 2018, it is wholly owned by the University of Oxford, with research at the center directed by the university's professors.
Under the agreement, OSCAR will now provide space and facilities to establish the Prenetics Innovation Technology Centre for Advanced Molecular Diagnostics, while Prenetics will provide additional funds to sponsor research on molecular diagnostics.
The goals of the collaboration include developing faster, more accurate, and less costly COVID-19 testing products, as well as rapid, point-of-need tests for other infectious diseases, according to a spokesperson.
Specifically, the next generation of the LAMP-based test is expected to take 15 minutes or less to run and be suitable for home and self-testing at a lower cost than the current version. It will also be able to detect new SARS-CoV-2 variants.
The collaborators expect to validate a next generation test and complete a clinical trial in May, with a new product launch shortly thereafter, the spokesperson said.
The OxLAMP RaViD Direct SARS-CoV-2 product currently identifies the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in 20 minutes with 96 percent sensitivity and almost 99.9 percent specificity. It is being used at airports globally, including in London Heathrow, and has received CE-IVD marking and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approval in the UK. It is also expected to be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization.
To date, Prenetics has received more than $60 million in strategic funding from Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, Ping An Ventures, Apis Partners, and others. In addition to its rapid test, the firm has performed more than 2 million laboratory-based RT-PCR tests in Hong Kong and the UK, including the testing of players and coaches of 20 English Premier League teams, and is developing a digital health passport for stadiums.
The Prenetics ITC will be directed by Wei Huang of the University of Oxford Department of Engineering Science. The ITC is expected to bring together researchers in biosensing, clinical virology, microbiology, and medical devices to spur molecular diagnostics development. In parallel, a research program has also been initiated at the University of Oxford. According to the spokesperson, the England-based teams will investigate diseases more relevant to the UK and the West, and the OSCAR team will look into diseases more relevant to China.