Friday 22nd October 2021
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World-leading COVID-19 antibody test developed by Auckland diagnostic biotech company Pictor will be available for use in New Zealand before the end of November, the company has announced.
The test could make New Zealand’s long-awaited easing of border restrictions safer as the country continues to battle the pandemic’s Delta variant.
Following “outstanding” results in an alpha trial, the company’s antibody test has been registered in Medsafe’s WAND database for marketing and use in New Zealand. The company’s manufacturing capabilities are being significantly increased at its Auckland facility and a production agreement is in place with South Pacific Sera in Timaru.
An Auckland testing laboratory will be offering the Pictor test before the end of November.
Pictor Chief Operating Officer Howard Moore says the company’s low-cost, high-performance, high-throughput multiplexed COVID-19 test can help determine when antibody levels following vaccination have declined to a level where revaccination is required.
“New Zealand needs to be aware that achieving very high vaccination levels will simply not be enough in the medium term. The Delta variant is relentless and, as jurisdictions overseas have already discovered, revaccinations will be required for many people to keep them, their families, workplaces and communities safe.”
Pictor’s PictArrayTMSARS-CoV2 assay is unique in its ability to, in one test, detect the Spike Protein (SP) and Nucleocapsid Protein (NP) antibodies, thus differentiating people who have antibodies from a previous infection (SP and NP antibodies) from those who have been vaccinated (SP antibodies only).
“By using Pictor’s antibody test before New Zealanders travel overseas, health authorities could confirm whether a person’s antibodies are adequate to allow them to safely avoid a mandatory MIQ stay when they return to New Zealand. An antigen test taken at the same time would provide data to further reduce the level of risk and improve certainty.”
“If international travelers were to take our test on arrival in New Zealand then health authorities would know whether they have antibodies as a result of previous infection or if they have been fully vaccinated,” says Mr Moore. “And if they are fully vaccinated, the results would let authorities know whether the level of antibodies are adequate to combat reinfection. In other words, we would know what category of risk each arrival represents and be able to act accordingly.”
Mr Moore says frontline workers such as border and healthcare professionals, truck drivers and port workers would ideally undergo the Pictor test three weeks after vaccination to ensure seroconversion has occurred (confirmation the vaccination has caused the body to produce the antibodies needed to combat the virus). Then, four months later, another Pictor test would determine whether a booster vaccination is required.
Pictor’s test would also enable employers of workers in high-risk roles to be proactive in protecting staff and lessen the likelihood of the Delta variant reappearing in workplaces thought to be safe because all staff are fully vaccinated.
Pictor recently completed a highly successful Alpha trial using blood samples from both COVID positive and negative samples sourced from the United States which Mr Moore describes as “very exciting in terms of the outstandingly good results for both sensitivity and specificity for both SP and NP”.
The company is currently recruiting volunteers for a clinical trial in New Zealand to show its unique antibody test’s capabilities. It has also contracted two US-based laboratories to conduct trials in the United States as part of its push to obtain FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and bring to market in early 2022. The company also plan to pursue a positive Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) opinion for use in the United Kingdom and European Union.
Pictor was founded in 2005 by scientists Dr Anand Kumble and Dr Sarita Kumble, who retired in 2017. Pictor has since expanded and now has 33 employees in the United States, New Zealand, Europe and India. In August 2020 Pictor established Pictor Inc. in the United States and appointed Dr Thomas Schlumpberger as its new CEO, based in San Francisco. Howard Moore, the previous CEO, is now COO.
Pictor recently announced it has achieved a breakthrough with its COVID-19 IgG antibody test. The diagnostic test, developed on Pictor’s multiplex platform, can differentiate individuals who have antibodies arising from being infected from those who have been vaccinated. This breakthrough is attracting increased interest from US-based diagnostic labs who wish to trial the product.
For more information and to request an interview with Howard Moore, please contact Mark Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 297 0178).
Source: Pictor Limited
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