Aptamer Group Ltd, the developer of diagnostic and therapeutic aptamer reagents, and its partner Integumen plc (AIM: SKIN) have progressed to full testing on the development of Microtox PD, a wastewater detection system for COVID-19 and the new COVID-19 breath test system, Microtox BT.
Over 60% of COVID-19 positive patients have shown gastrointestinal symptoms and the SARS-CoV-2 virus found in their faecal samples. Sampling wastewater from households has the potential to provide an early warning system for localised outbreaks in communities and help to control the spread of this disease.
Aptamer Group has supplied SARS-CoV-2 specific aptamers to Integumen for the detection of the virus in wastewater samples. First testing and validation of the aptamers in this Microtox PD wastewater detection system have shown positive results and this detection system will now undergo full testing with real SARS-CoV-2 virus samples at the University of Aberdeen.
It is anticipated that this detection system for the continuous detection of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage could be launched in early 2021 and will be distributed through Modern Water’s global footprint of over 3,000 installations to help control the pandemic.
Aptamer Group is also collaborating with Integumen on the development of its new personalised COVID-19 breath test, Microtox BT, and its complementary Digital Health Pass platform.
The breath test is intended to offer a simple, daily testing for potential COVID-19 infection and is linked to a 24 hour Digital Health Pass for each person. This health pass would show positive or negative results , creating a personalised pass for entry into specific social locations, such as airports, offices and events, to allow the economy to re-open.
Aptamer Group’s aptamers for SARS-CoV-2 are included in the test to detect infection levels in a breath sample. Following successful first-round testing of the Microtox BT breath test, the University of Aberdeen will now carry out further confirmatory tests on COVID-19 samples, along with a planned trial of up to 5,000 people, to check it’s performance against third parties using PCR* and antigen tests. Results are expected before the end of the year.
Dr Arron Tolley, chief executive of Aptamer Group, said: “This is a significant step forward in the fight against coronavirus and our partnership with Integumen is a strong endorsement of the application of aptamers in virus testing.
“Once the trials have been successfully completed, we will have two significant weapons that are crucial to beating the virus and enabling life to get back to normal.”
If successful, Aptamer Group will work with Integumen to supply commercial scale quantities of the SARS-CoV-2 aptamer for the global use of the Microtox detection systems in identifying localised COVID-19 hotspots in wastewater and personalised real-time Breath Test and Digital Health Pass devices.
*PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies.