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Avacta, Cytiva Collaborate on Developing Coronavirus Rapid Test

NEW YORK – Avacta said Wednesday it has entered a collaboration with Cytiva to develop and manufacture a point-of-care rapid test to screen large populations for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The test, using Affimer reagents developed by Wetherby, UK-based Avacta, is being designed to rapidly diagnose infection using a respiratory sample, such as saliva, the company said.

Cytiva, formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences and now part of Danaher, will transfer the diagnostic assay to its point-of-care test-strip platform.

As part of the collaboration, Avacta will own the intellectual property relating to the COVID-19 Affimer-reagents and retain all commercial rights to future products associated with the reagents.

Financial and other terms of the collaboration have not been disclosed.

Avacta CEO Alastair Smith said in a statement that the test under development will indicate whether a person has the virus within minutes regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. He said Avacta has demonstrated in the case of the Zika virus that its Affimer platform can "quickly provide highly specific reagents in response to an outbreak of an infectious disease."

Avacta said it aims to complete development of Affimer reagents for the COVID-19 test by the end of May. The reagents "can be transferred to Cytiva and potentially to other global diagnostic manufacturers to implement in a test strip," Smith said.