Aptamer Group Ltd, the developer of diagnostic and therapeutic aptamer reagents, is pleased to announce further progress in their collaboration with Integumen plc (AIM: SKIN) to develop Microtox PD, a wastewater detection system for COVID-19. Aptamer Group is also collaborating with Integumen on the development of a new personalised rapid COVID-19 breath test, Microtx BT, and its complementary Digital Health Pass platform.

Both COVID-19 diagnostic platforms will incorporate Aptamer Group’s recently developed aptamers, highly specific to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, to detect the presence of the coronavirus and provide real-time detection of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has been associated with gastrointestinal symptoms in over 60% of positive patients and the SARS-COV-2 virus was found in their faecal samples. Sampling wastewater from households may therefore provide an early warning system for localised outbreaks in communities. Initial integration into the Microtox PD wastewater detection system and successful validation of the SARS-CoV-2 aptamer reagent for viral capture has been demonstrated. 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.

Development of the Microtox BT breath test is intended to offer daily triaging for potential COVID-19 infection with a 24 hour Digital Health Pass that could allow the economy to re-open through personalised entry into specific social locations, such as airports, offices and events. This system uses Aptamer Group’s SARS-CoV-2 aptamers to offer rapid COVID-19 diagnosis via a simple, unobtrusive breath sample. Extensive first-round testing of this system has been successfully completed. Further testing on real COVID-19 virus samples is planned at the University of Aberdeen along with a joint trial of up to 5,000 participants in parallel with third parties using PCR and antigen COVID-19 diagnostic tests. Results are anticipated before the end of the year.

Upon successful completion of these evaluations, Aptamer Group will enter into an agreement with Integumen for the supply of commercial-scale quantities of the SARS-CoV-2 aptamer to commercialise their Microtox detection systems globally, providing identification of localised COVID-19 hotspots in wastewater and personalised real-time Breath Test and Digital Health Pass devices.