AsianScientist (May 15, 2020) – GenScript Biotech Corporation, a global biotechnology company, has entered an exclusive research agreement with researchers in Singapore to produce a rapid test kit for detecting neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The first of its kind in the world, the kit can be used not only to tell if people have ever been infected by the virus but also if they have developed a protective immune response.
Called the surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT) or cPass™, the kit was developed by Professor Wang Linfa of Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore. The commercialization process was facilitated by the Diagnostics Development Hub (DxD) at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), which validated the kit with clinical samples and developed the manufacturing protocol and quality controls to secure its provisional authorisation by the Health Sciences Authority. The samples were from a clinical trial called PROTECT, coordinated by Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
Unlike rapid test kits which simply detect the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, cPass™ looks specifically for neutralizing antibodies, which are those that are able to clear the viral infection. Detecting neutralizing antibodies previously required live viruses, cell cultures, skilled operators and biocontainment facilities, making the cost of widespread testing for neutralizing antibodies prohibitive. Furthermore, such testing takes several days, as opposed to the single hour required for cPass™ to give a result.
“The serological detection system developed by Professor Wang is unique, innovative and has many advantages, such as high sensitivity and specificity, and applicability to all antibody isotypes,” said Dr. Zhu Li, Chief Strategy Officer of GenScript. “The test results will be of great help to governments in guiding the resumption of work since it is extremely useful for quick and reliable surveillance to determine how widely a population has gained immunity to SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
“The cPass™ developed by our team can be used for contact tracing, reservoir or intermediate animal tracking, assessment of herd immunity, longevity of protective immunity and efficacy of different vaccine candidates. It does not require a biosafety containment facility, which makes it immediately accessible to the global community, including many developing nations,” said Wang, who was part of the team that used serology-based tests to link previously unlinked disease clusters in Singapore.
Currently, DxD Hub is producing a pilot batch for use in Singapore hospitals. There are plans for this know-how to be transferred to local biotech companies for scaled-up production.
Asian Scientist Magazine is a media partner of GenScript.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: GenScript.
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