The Native Antigen Company, Oxford, UK, a supplier of reagents that enable research into vaccines and diagnostics for emerging and endemic infectious diseases, recently announced the commercial introduction of its novel coronavirus antigens, derived from the emerging Wuhan strain. The recombinant proteins offer scientists high-quality reagents to support ongoing infectious disease research, and the development of diagnostics and vaccines.

Native Antigen has developed rapid-response manufacturing capabilities to produce reagents for emerging epidemic diseases according to the R&D blueprint of the World Health Organization (WHO), which urges the accelerated development of vaccines and the increased availability of accurate and reliable diagnostics for priority emerging infectious diseases.

The antigens have been derived specifically from the newly identified novel coronavirus using Native Antigen’s proprietary mammalian, VirtuE expression system. The system is able to introduce proper protein folding and posttranslational modifications to recombinant proteins, which are essential for full biological and antigenic activity.

The coronavirus first designated 2019-nCoV, and recently renamed ‘coronavirus disease 2019’ (COVID-19), is a new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. It is currently under global surveillance by WHO. Although the vast majority of cases are still within China, the virus is a rapidly emerging pathogen that has caused more than 50,000 confirmed cases of acute respiratory disease in at least 24 countries.

The Native Antigen CompanyIllnesses associated with COVID-19 are similar to several other respiratory diseases and show the typical features of viral pneumonia, including fever, dry cough, sore throat, and headache. Most cases of COVID-19 infection are considered mild to moderate, with a subset of patients experiencing more severe illness with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. According to WHO, the national mortality rate in China is thought to be approximately 2% of confirmed cases. There is no vaccine currently available to prevent COVID-19 infection, although a number of companies and government organizations are in the process of developing one.

“Our mission is to reduce the global burden of infectious disease by developing the highest quality reagents in rapid response to emerging public health threats,” says Andy Lane, PhD, commercial director at Native Antigen. “The release of these coronavirus antigens within one month of the newly identified 2019-nCoV genome being published exemplifies the power of the Native Antigen Company’s recombinant protein platforms to prepare reagents in response to new threats.

“As one of the first recognized suppliers to release 2019-nCoV proteins, we are proud to be able to offer these antigens to in vitro diagnostics and pharmaceutical researchers to help drive the development of serological assays and vaccines that will be vital in stemming the spread of this disease,” adds Lane.

“The Native Antigen Company’s coronavirus antigens could aid the development of accurate serological assays to identify asymptomatic individuals who have been infected by the virus, and help to assess the true level of infection in any population,” says Richard Tedder, MB.BChir, FRCP, visiting professor of medical virology at Imperial College London. “The availability of these antigens also supports researchers’ efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV by providing vital reagents to measure vaccine responses.”

For additional information, visit the Native Antigen Company.