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Genedrive shares jump as it aims to have a coronavirus test available within five weeks

Genedrive and Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Science) will jointly develop the Genedrive 96 SARS-CoV-2 assay for use on lab-based PCR instruments.

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Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) shares jumped higher on Monday after revealing that it has agreed a collaboration deal with Cytiva to develop the Genedrive 96 SARS-CoV-2 assay for use on lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) instruments which could see a test for coronavirus (COVID-19) available within five weeks.

The AIM-listed molecular diagnostics specialist said the project with Cytiva - the company formerly known as GE Healthcare Life Sciences - is one of two assay programmes it is developing as per its coronavirus test announcement late last month.

READ Genedrive rockets as it says coronavirus test could be available in eight weeks

The Genedrive 96 SARS-CoV-2 assay combines Genedrive's PCR chemistry integrated with Cytiva's LyoStable stabilisation technology. The combination would allow for high throughput manufacturing of over 10,000 tests per hour in a 96-well, temperature-stable plate format that could be transported globally without the need for refrigeration.

"We have extensive experience working with the Cytiva team on assay development and manufacturing for our Point of Care HCV [hepatitis C virus], AIHL [antibiotic induced hearing loss], and military programmes,” said David Budd, the chief executive officer of Genedrive in a statement.

“We are pleased to now apply that partnership in a high throughput manufacturing process, which we believe places us amongst a small group of companies that have the capability to produce simple assay solutions at significant scale. We are working very aggressively and plan to have product available in the next five weeks,” Budd added.

Gabriel Fernandez de Pierola, the general manager of Genomics and Diagnostics at Cytiva, said the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus is driving an urgent need for extensive testing, particularly among patients and health workers.

“Critical to overcoming the pandemic is being able to produce high volumes of reliable tests which can be shipped easily on a global basis with minimal environmental impact. We hope our Lyo-Stable technology coupled with Genedrive's high throughput testing solution will help deliver technical solutions to address the current crisis," he said.

Peel Hunt upbeat

In a note to clients, analysts at Peel Hunt repeated their 'buy' rating on Genedrive shares and noted that the important feature of Genedrive’s 96 SARS-CoV-2 assay is that - when combined with Cytiva’s stabilisation technology - the assay lends itself to extreme, high-throughput, with the potential of manufacturing over 10,000 tests per hour in a 96-well, temperature-stable plate-format that could be transported globally without the requirement of refrigeration.

They said: "We share the company view that PCR testing for coronavirus will be required in huge numbers for the foreseeable future."

The analysts added: "As a reminder, this is only one of the two assay programmes that the company is pursuing/progressing (in relation to coronavirus) as announced on 25th March. Given the company’s focus on these assays/recent developments – and their exciting potential – we now put our TP/forecasts under review until the company has had chance to crystallise this opportunity." 

In late morning trading, Genedrive shares were 35% higher at 78.50p.

 -- Adds broker comment, share price --

Quick facts: Genedrive PLC

Price: 112 GBX

AIM:GDR
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £70.88 m
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