Surface chemistry company AnteoTech (ASX: ADO) emerged from a trading halt this morning to announce a potential breakthrough in the struggle against COVID-19.
The company revealed it has developed a proof of concept COVID-19 and flu multiplex test platform that can detect whether patients have been, or are currently, infected with the coronavirus. The dual test can also detect flu antigens, a useful tool for clinicians.
Using an AX-2X-S lateral flow reader manufactured by diagnostics company Axxin, AnteoTech said it developed a high sensitivity test utilising either saliva, mucous or blood to detect the presence of COVID-19 antigens in less than 15 minutes.
The company’s test is based on its proprietary Europium nanoparticle-based detection method, which AnteoTech said can provide up to 20 times improvement compared to existing tests.
Current tests are of a binary nature, providing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ result when testing for antigens, whereas AnteoTech’s approach is to use its patented Europium nanoparticle-based detection capable of greater accuracy, and at least in theory, to reduce the amount of false-positive and false-negative results currently being reported during COVID-19 testing.
AnteoTech kicked off its COVID-19 testing program in March 2020 in response to rapidly deteriorating events on a global scale – ranging from growing infections and deaths to the ongoing problem of suitable testing programs given that many unknowns remain concerning COVID-19 and its dynamics as a disease.
Also, existing tests have not been as reliable as first hoped. Several individuals including pro NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson have reported testing positive and negative in the same week, thereby raising concerns that current testing mechanisms are inadequate.
Following initial consultations and concept testing, AnteoTech said it has committed to developing a viable test with the view it could make a “substantial and unique contribution” in responding to COVID-19 by leveraging the company’s AnteoBind activated Europium particle technology and associated conjugation competency.
“This is another important milestone for AnteoTech as we further leverage AnteoBind activated Europium and our assay development competency with the aim to deliver an end-user product in the lateral flow point of care market,” AnteoTech chief executive officer Derek Thomson said.
“All of the company including myself are immensely proud to have made the decision to develop this test as we believe our competency and product is unique and can make a substantial difference in the global fight against the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
The prospect of a new test that improves COVID-19 detection is supplemented by an additional flu detection component that could also allow patients to be tested for flu antigens.
Providing a single multiplex test allows doctors to rule out flu infections when diagnosing COVID-19 – an important identifier considering symptoms are broadly similar and can easily be mistaken for one another, thereby complicating testing programs and undermining ongoing lockdown measures.
Combined with the Axxin reader, the AnteoTech test is designed to deliver higher sensitivity than the Gold particle-based antibody tests that are commonly used in point-of-care platforms today, AnteoTech said.
Currently, the test remains a work in progress despite passing proof of concept, with AnteoTech confirming it is actively seeking further partnerships to advance development.
If or when this is completed, the company believes the test will fill an unmet need in the diagnostic response to COVID-19 by providing high sensitivity, better quality detection, as well as widening the type of organic material that can be supplied to carry out the test.
Onwards and upwards
With a proof of concept developed, AnteoTech said its antigen test demonstrates a working full cassette assay with the next phase of development set to take a further six to nine months before a finalised test can be supplied to the market.
In this time, the company is set to conduct test optimisation, adjust the lower/upper limits of detection, verify and validate the test’s design, conduct clinical studies and gain regulatory approvals before scaled manufacturing and sales can commence.
When complete, a portable point-of-care device for swab samples is expected to provide an accurate diagnosis within 15 minutes.
If successfully developed, AnteoTech expects its new antigen test to enable health providers to reduce the spread of disease via recommendation of immediate isolation of those infected with COVID-19.
AnteoTech shares rose 68% to $0.037 per share in early trade.