Collaboration Offers Hotspot Detection Monitoring in Wastewater

Integumen has signed a Material Transfer Agreement (“MTA”) with Avacta plc (“Avacta”) to evaluate the immobilisation of Avacta’s affirmer® (“Affirmer) proteins on a novel sensor for the purpose of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.

The Avacta affimers have the potential to play a key role in the real-time identification of localised COVID-19 hotspots in wastewater, from which authorities can be alerted through Integumen’s real-time alert system to prevent the spread of the disease to the wider community. Each party is responsible for its own costs in respect of the evaluation.

Virus Detection

The MTA formalises Integumen’s access to Avacta’s Affimers to be coated onto Integumen’s proprietary silicon wafer nano-photonic surfaces. Integumen, who are already well advanced with the miniaturisation of the virus detection prototype, will make use of up to six Affimers to be tested at the Company’s York, UK, manufacturing facilities, which specialises in laboratory grown human skin equivalents specifically designed to host bacteria, virus and fungi. Once initial testing on the Affimers is completed over the next few weeks, validation of the sensors on the real SARS-CoV-2 virus will be carried out at the containment level 3 (“CL3”) laboratory in the University of Aberdeen.

Upon successful completion of the evaluation, Integumen and the Avacta will enter into a supply agreement for the supply of Affimers into Integumen’s sensors which will initially be integrated and retrofitted into Modern Water plc’s Microtox water contamination system units to detect the coronavirus. The Microtox system, which can detect the pre-sence of contaminating bacteria, virus and toxins but not yet identify them, is distributed by Modern Water and has a global footprint of over 3,000 installations.

Gerard Brandon, CEO, Integumen plc commented:

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Avacta, adding their highly specific and robust Affimer reagent to our real-time alert arsenal of pathogen capture devices of the COVID-19 virus in sewage. The global pandemic has highlighted wastewa-ter as an early warning hotspot detection opportunity and the inclusion of Affimer reagents with our sensors adds an already established method of capturing the virus to an already established pathogen alert system .”

Dr Alastair Smith, CEO, Avacta plc commented:

“I am very pleased to be entering into this collaboration with Integumen which holds substantial commercial potential for an Affimer-based consumable SARS-COV-2 detector unit to retrofit into the large global installed based of Microtox sys-tems. Affimer reagents are ideal for applications such as this not only because of their sensitivity and specificity but also because of their robustness which is essential when being deployed in real-world situations like real-time waste-water analysis.”

“With the spread of COVID-19 continuing to accelerate globally, we are proud to work with partners like Integumen to provide our Affimer reagents for development on a range of platforms to combat the pandemic. This collaboration has the potential to deliver a product that will play a crucial role in the early detection of COVID-19 hotspots around the world.”

“I look forward to updating the market very soon on progress with Integumen and other COVID-19 related programmes.”