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New Collaboration Aims to Increase COVID-19 Reagent Production

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OXGENE™ and The Native Antigen Company have announced a collaboration to scale up production of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) reagents by combining OXGENE’s proprietary Adenoviral Protein Machine Technology with The Native Antigen Company’s antigen development expertise. Together, OXGENE and The Native Antigen Company will aim to scale their antigen manufacturing capabilities to deliver high-purity, recombinant proteins for the development of diagnostics and vaccines.

OXGENE and The Native Antigen Company are developing an improved, scalable approach to SARS-CoV-2 antigen manufacture. The Native Antigen Company was one of the first recognized suppliers of SARS-CoV-2 antigens in February 2020, demonstrating their ability to rapidly support the diagnostic and vaccine industries with high-quality infectious disease reagents. OXGENE’s Protein Machine Technology allows for the scalable production of viral proteins in mammalian cells using their proprietary adenoviral expression vector. Through genetic modification, the adenovirus is “tricked” into making SARS-CoV-2 proteins rather than its own, thereby harnessing the innate power of highly scalable viral protein production.

The Native Antigen Company’s recombinant SARS-CoV-2 antigens are produced in mammalian cells to ensure full glycosylation and proper protein folding, both of which are essential for full biological and antigenic activity. The rapid scale up production of SARS-CoV-2 antigens is critical for the development of widely available diagnostic tests.

These diagnostics aim to be able to confirm past infections and determine levels of immunity to SARS-CoV-2. This could be invaluable for disease modeling and public health policy, as true transmission rates and case fatality rates can be determined. These tests could also be instrumental for the diagnosis of healthcare workers who have been exposed to the virus to ensure that they have developed natural immunity before returning to work, and to help measure patient immune responses for the rapid development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

This collaboration builds on a long-standing collegiate relationship between the two Oxford-based businesses as they work towards developing more scalable technologies for the diagnosis of disease, and the cost-effective manufacture of high-quality diagnostics and vaccines.

Dr Ryan Cawood, Chief Executive, OXGENE, said: “Our novel Protein Machine Technology represents a significant development in the rapid and scalable generation of high-quality viral proteins. We’re delighted that by collaborating with The Native Antigen Company, we can take advantage of our technology to support the needs of researchers racing to develop much-needed diagnostics and vaccines against COVID-19.”

Dr Andy Lane, Commercial Director, The Native Antigen Company, said: “We are committed to developing the highest-quality reagents in rapid response to emerging epidemic diseases. Since the start of the crisis, the demand for our COVID-19 antigens has increased significantly, and by scaling up production of these vital reagents in collaboration with OXGENE, we hope to be able to support more researchers in their critical work developing diagnostics and vaccines.”

OXGENE and The Native Antigen Company aim to complete the first validation of this new paradigm in protein expression within the next month, which could have a demonstrable impact on the race to develop diagnostic kits and vaccines against this virus.