Oxford University, Prenetics to advance COVID-19 rapid testing for other

Oxford University, Hong Kong-headquartered Prenetics and Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research (OSCAR) have entered a new collaboration to further develop rapid molecular testing for infectious diseases.

The OxLAMP technology is behind Oxford University’s rapid COVID-19 test, which can identify the presence of COVID-19 without the use of a traditional laboratory within 20 minutes.

The test also boasts 96% sensitivity and 99% specificity and has been deployed at a number of airports globally, including London’s Heathrow airport.

So far, the rapid test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which cause COVID-19, has received CE-IVD approval in Europe and Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval in the UK.

Now, Oxford University, Prenetics and OSCAR are seeking to advance the rapid testing technology for application in other infectious diseases, although the partners did not disclose their specific targets.

The three-year, multi-million dollar collaboration will see researchers based in both Oxford and Prenetics’ Innovation Technology Centre (ITC), located at OSCAR’s Suzhou campus, work on advancing the existing technology for rapid testing for in new indications.

The new collaboration follows Prenetics’ acquisition of Oxford University spinout COVID-19 testing company Oxsed last year.

“Our new collaboration with Oxford University and OSCAR is our commitment to continually invest in R&D and by establishing our own Innovation Technology Centre, we believe it will have profound breakthroughs in molecular diagnostics,” said Danny Yeung, co-founder and group chief executive officer of Prenetics.

“We also expect more top researchers to be based in Suzhou and in Oxford over the next 3 years into our technology centre. The Oxford team of professors has been amazing and I’m truly excited with our molecular diagnostic pipeline and the opportunity to decentralise laboratory testing globally,” he added.

The demand for COVID-19 diagnostics continues to grow as social distancing restrictions in certain countries, including England, begin to ease.

In response to growing demand, a number of pharma companies have signed collaboration agreements to bolster their presence in the area, including Roche which acquired diagnostics specialist GenMark for approximately $1.8bn in March.

As part of its proposed acquisition of GenMark, Roche will add the company’s respiratory pathogen panels to its arsenal.

This diagnostic identifies the most common viral and bacterial organisms associated with upper respiratory infection, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

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