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Oxford Immunotec Joins Forces With Public Health England in a Large Clinical Trial Utilizing T-SPOT® Discovery™ SARS-CoV-2 Test

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Oxford Immunotec has entered into an extensive research collaboration with Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the UK’s Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). As part of this, PHE has launched the ‘Evaluating Detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using home test kits’ study (EDSAB-HOME), a cohort study of high risk (healthcare workers) and lower risk populations to provide rapid validation of SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) testing kits. With this collaboration, the Company will be contributing its T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 testing kits for use in the trial.

The T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 test is unique within the trial as it is the only test which uses the T cell response rather than antibody-mediated immunity to investigate previous exposure to the virus.

Limitations have been reported with the measurement of antibody-mediated immunity, including that: 1) Antibodies may not be present after infection1 2) Where antibodies are present they may not persist over time2 and 3) There is currently no direct evidence that people who do have detectable antibodies are protected from a second infection3. Measuring T cells, in conjunction with other tests, may overcome some of these issues.

The T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 test will be used to generate data to help understand: 

How widely T cells are produced in confirmed infected patients

Whether T cells are able to be detected in infected patients who are serology negative

The strength of the T cell response against SARS-CoV-2 both with and without a concomitant antibody response

The breadth of, and potentially the longevity of, the T cell response to SARS-CoV-2

Peter Wrighton-Smith, CEO of Oxford Immunotec said ‘We are very pleased to be partnering with PHE, and to be contributing to the UK’s efforts to find the best testing protocols to fight COVID-19. We have been able to employ our expertise in immunology and particularly the T cell response to add value to these efforts.  We believe a successful EDSAB-HOME trial will yield important information about our test, to further our knowledge of how it works and help us to develop the test further.’  


1 Wu F, Wang A, Liu M, et al. Neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a COVID-19 recovered patient cohort and their implications. medRxiv 2020: 2020.03.30.20047365.
2 World Health Organisation, Scientific Briefs. "Immunity passports" in the context of COVID-19. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/immunity-passports-in-the-context-of-covid-19
3 Thieme CJ, Anft M, Paniskaki K et al The SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity is directed against the spike, membrane, and nucleocapsid protein and associated with COVID 19 severity Immunity Pre-Print: medRxiv https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.13.20100636v1.full.pdf