Avacta Group, Cambridge, UK, the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, is collaborating with Integumen, Dublin, Ireland, to evaluate recently generated Affimer reagents that bind the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for the detection of the coronavirus in wastewater, to provide a real-time alert system to warn of localized covid-19 outbreaks.
More than 60% of covid-19 positive patients have gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus was found in their fecal samples. Sampling wastewater from households may therefore provide an early warning system for localized outbreaks in communities.

Recently, Avacta announced that it had generated a number of highly specific Affimer reagents that detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein for use in diagnostic tests and in neutralizing therapies.

The collaboration with Integumen aims to evaluate some of these Affimer reagents in next-generation sensors, based on the real-time bacteria detection and alert system developed by Rinocloud, Cambridge, UK, a subsidiary of Integumen, with the aim of integrating these sensors into London-based Modern Water’s Microtox water contamination system to detect the coronavirus.1The proposed Affimer sensors would be consumable items to be replaced on a roughly monthly basis.

“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 globally installed base of Microtox systems,” says Alastair Smith, BSc, PhD, chief executive of Avacta Group.

Once initial testing of the Affimer reagents is completed over the next few weeks, validation of the sensors will be carried out using SARS-CoV-2 virus samples in a containment level 3 laboratory at the University of Aberdeen. Upon successful completion of this evaluation, Integumen and Avacta will enter into a supply agreement to allow Integumen to manufacture and commercialize the wastewater detection sensors globally by retrofitting into Microtox systems.

For further information, visit Avacta Group.


1. Remote Automated Water Test (RAWTest) incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) develop in a consortium partly funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). https://www.londonstockexchange.com/news-article/SKIN/results-of-ai-water-research-project/14314998.