Paraytec is working on lots of important diagnostic tests but the one that will catch the market’s eye is the COVID-19 test, which the company is confident will identify the new Omicron variant
Braveheart Investment Group PLC (AIM:BRH) highlighted an operational update from investee company Paraytec, which is developing a Coronavirus (COVID-19) test.
The Paraytec team and its collaborators at Sheffield University are confident the test will work with Omicron and other variants of COVID-19 as Paraytec’s test to detect the virus uses antibodies to attach a specific fluorescent dye to the surface of each virus particle.
The antibodies used in Paraytec’s test have been selected to recognise the viral spike protein. While mutations in the Omicron variant give rise to over 30 amino acid changes in the spike protein, all of these occur in a region of the protein that is distinct from that recognised by the antibodies selected for the Paraytec test.
While it is obviously important for the test to work, from a commercial perspective it is also crucial the test is relatively cheap to produce and the latest design analysis suggests production cost will be less than £2 per test cartridge.
Similarly, the projected manufacturing cost of the CX300 instrument, required to analyse the patient specimen and provide the test result, is likely to be in the region of £1,500 per instrument. This relatively low cost means CX300 instruments could be offered for a nominal charge with a minimum initial purchase of cartridges, a marketing and business model successfully pursued by printer manufacturers, razor blade manufacturers and others.
As previously indicated, the Paraytec team will commence a prospective clinical study early in the new year, followed by a longitudinal study. Discussions with potential commercial partners and acquirers are now continuing in some depth, with some prospective counterparties having completed a third round of such meetings.
The Braveheart board continues to assess what is likely to result in the best outcome for shareholders, whether it is from the potential sale, partnership or retention and full development of the technology.
Meanwhile, Paraytec has started the development of a blood-based test for the identification of microbial pathogens that are causative agents in the development and emergence of sepsis, a life-threatening reaction by the body to infection. The test will be based on the existing CX300 platform.
The test will be developed in a similar way to the COVID-19 test, rapidly and specifically targeting relevant bacterial species and labelling them with one of a number of fluorescent dyes.
The CX300 platform will also be developed further to discriminate between the various wavelengths of light emitted from distinct fluorescent dyes, and to accommodate the volumes of fluid involved in a standard blood test, typically 5 -10 millilitres.
In parallel with the above work, a screening process will be used to identify antibody molecules that discriminate between normal and cancerous bladder cells for Paraytec’s bladder cancer test. The team will identify a panel of antibodies that recognise bladder cancer cells while avoiding the need to identify specific bladder cancer biomarkers.
As with the test for sepsis, the bladder cancer test uses Paraytec’s existing CX300 platform, which will be adapted for screening the typical volumes of urine collected from patients in a clinical setting.
Shares in Braveheart were up 2.9% at 36p in early deals.