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Biolidics signs five-year licence with A*Star arm; eyes development of new Covid-19 test kits

BIOLIDICS on July 9 entered into a five-year licence agreement with Accelerate Technologies, the commercialisation arm of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), to use the agency's technology for the detection of Covid-19 viral spike/Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) blocking antibodies.

The Catalist-listed company said in a bourse filing late on Tuesday that it aims to develop new serology tests which incorporate the technology.

Under the agreement, Accelerate Technologies has granted Biolidics non-exclusive worldwide rights to use the technology for diagnostic use for the five-year term to further develop the technology, and the right to market serology tests which incorporate the technology. 

ACE2 is a cellular receptor for coronaviruses such as Sars and the novel coronavirus. Spike proteins from these coronaviruses recognise and bind to ACE2 on the surface of target cells, allowing the virus to enter these cells and infect the person. 

Most commercially available serology tests against Covid-19, including Biolidics' own Covid-19 antibody test kit launched on March 30, detects IgG and IgM antibodies, which are a group of antibodies produced by the body in response to a novel coronavirus infection.

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As such, these serology tests are currently used only as an assistive tool in the detection of Covid-19, and are not able to detect specific antibodies which bind to the novel coronavirus and interfere with its ability to infect target cells, Biolidics said.

It added that serology tests incorporating A*Star's technology allow for the detection of such Covid-19 viral spike/ACE2 blocking antibodies that may interfere with the ability of the virus to infect target cells, and could provide an indication of protective immunity against Covid-19.

Biolidics added that there is currently little information on the level of antibodies sufficient to confer protective immunity to an individual, and how long such protective immunity against Covid-19 may last in an individual.

It also cautioned shareholders and potential investors that policies in relation to the diagnosis and/or detection of the Covid-19 virus and/or antibodies in various jurisdictions could change in response to developments in the Covid-19 situation, which was "evolving rapidly".

"There is no certainty that the group will be able to successfully commercialise the serology tests which incorporate the technology, if developed," it added.

It said the agreement is not expected to have a material impact on its earnings per share and the net asset value of the group for the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2020.

Biolidics shares jumped 29.3 per cent on Monday before the company called for a trading halt during the midday break. It lifted the halt before the market opened on Wednesday. The counter was trading at S$0.52 before the halt.

Shares of Biolidics have swung in the last few months amid a series of rapid-fire announcements.

Here is a timeline of recent events:

March 30: Biolidics announces it is launching its Covid-19 rapid test kit by end April.

April 1: It obtains authorisation for the use of test kits in the Philippines.

April 6: Biolidics' test kits are allowed to be sold in the European Union.

April 13: Biolidics announces plans to distribute its test kits in the US.

April 20: Biolidics gets permission to market and sell its test kits in the US.

April 23: Biolidics signs exclusive US distribution deal with Aytu Bioscience for its test kits.

April 26: Biolidics responds to Singapore Exchange (SGX) queries over its appointment of scandal-hit Aytu that it does not expect the agreement to have a material impact on its business plans.

May 8: Biolidics appoints Mediproud as the non-exclusive distributor of its test kits in Thailand.

May 11: Biolidics appoints Clearbridge Health as non-exclusive regional distributor of its test kits in the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

June 27: Biolidics calls off the sale of its test kits in the US, citing increased competition. It announces it is working with Aytu to develop a new test kit with broader use outside of laboratory or clinical settings.

July 3: SGX queries Biolidics on its scrapped distribution deal with Aytu.

July 8: Biolidics signs five-year agreement with China's LC-Bio to develop cancer-diagnostic solutions.

July 9: Biolidics signs five-year licence agreement with Accelerate Technologies for the use of Covid-19 viral spike detection technology. It announces plans to develop new tests incorporating the technology.

July 14: Biolidics announces the A*Star licence pact.

July 15: SGX queries Biolidics on the timing and details of its A*Star licence announcement.

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