Integumen PLC (LON:SKIN) has unveiled a new personalised coronavirus breath test, Microtox BT, and a complimentary digital health pass platform which it says has the potential to enable instant real-time testing for the virus.
The AIM-listed firm said the new test, adapted from its wastewater test Microtox PD, can analyse the breath and detect the spike protein of the coronavirus in real-time for those with a high viral load. Following extensive internal testing, the company said the test will now transition to the University of Aberdeen containment level 3 laboratory to undergo tests directly on the virus followed by a joint trial of up to 5,000 participants, results of which are anticipated before the end of the year.
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Integumen said the test “could be capable of providing daily triaging of everyone who may or may not demonstrate levels of infection”, while the company has also incorporated a 24-hour digital health pass that indicates whether a person tests positive or negative for infection and is matched with blockchain secure data and time stamps. The firm said the health pass “could potentially contribute to enabling the economy to re-open” with personalised entry and no go areas in venues such as workplaces, events and public transport.
Meanwhile, the company said its Microtox PD wastewater detection system for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, is ready for beta testing using real samples of the virus. The Microtox PD has been integrated into a water contamination system developed by Modern Water PLC (LON:MWG), while Integumen has also integrated its own Rinocloud artificial intelligence technology to enable continuous learning and improvements as the systems gains data in commercial use. Microtox PD is expected to launch in early 2021.
Integumen also announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for agreements to be concluded with Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) and Aptamer Group for the supply of commercial-scale quantities of coronavirus binding agents.
The firm said the licence agreements are for the use of affimers from Avacta and aptamers from Aptamer Group for next-generation sensors providing identification of localised coronavirus hotspots in wastewater and the breath test and digital health pass devices.
"Collaboration and cooperation are key to solving major societal problems like [coronavirus]. Together our collaboration brings extensive scientific expertise in each of our fields and the results of this strategy can be seen by our ability to rapidly bring effective solutions in the fight against this global pandemic.
Integumen has reached a point of Minimum Viable Product/Service using Affimers and Aptamers that bind to the nano-photonic chips and detect the protein spike of SARS-CoV-2 in filtered wastewater and in the breathalyser, and we are confident that Microtox PD and Microtox BT are now ready for live virus testing”, Integumen chief executive Gerry Brandon said in a statement.
"The company believes that to enable the economy to re-open fully, the public are going to have to take the responsibility of testing against this virus, themselves.
"By providing an instant real-time breath test with a digital reader platform, and combined with appropriately priced products, we can drive a consumer-led duty of care for personal [coronavirus] responsibility. The current infrastructure for testing of this virus is groaning under the pressure and we believe that whilst PCR and Antigen tests are crucial to the diagnosis of coronavirus, we believe that Microtox BT and the Digital Health Pass will enable businesses and the public themselves to triage those with infections, creating safer environments with the potential to limit self-isolation to only those that need to”, he added.
The update sent Integumen’s shares surging 18.9% to 63p in early deals on Thursday, while shares in Modern Water - which Integumen has made a recommended takeover bid for - jumped 26.8% higher to 6.15p.