29th April 2020; Elasmogen Limited, Aberdeen, Scotland (“Elasmogen”) are to collaborate with the University of Aberdeen as a partner on a Scottish Government research award of almost £1 M to tackle COVID-19.
Current diagnostic testing for COVID-19 so called RT-PCR for infectious agents, whilst accurate is complex to perform, suited to centralised laboratories, takes 4–24 hours to complete and requires shipment of clinical samples from drive through and other collection centres. Point-of-care (PoC) or bedside tests are urgently needed to accelerate clinical decision-making and reduce the workload of test laboratories. Rapid PoC tests at the community level were identified by WHO (Feb ‘20) as the first of 8 research priorities. Elasmogen will use its drug discovery approaches that have proved successful in cancer therapy, to generate next generation PoC diagnostics with the ultimate goal to deliver pregnancy-like test results in 30 min.
Elasmogen will screen their 100 billion clone soloMER libraries in a bid to isolate COVID-19 specific binding domains. soloMERs have many advantages over classical antibodies that have often been used in the past in diagnostic testing. In contrast to large bulky antibodies, soloMERs are small in size and have a unique binding-site shape which predispose the recognition of the sort of “lock and key” binding seen between the receptor binding domain (RBD) of COVID-19 (the surface displayed, spike protein) and the human cell surface receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).
This unique mode of binding will be exploited to isolate soloMERs which will be rapidly formatted into Elasmogen’s proprietary Quad-X and Quad-Y formats. As their name suggests these Quad formats have 4 binding sites (compared with an antibodies two) increasing by several orders of magnitude the sensitivity and specificity of detection, de-risking the development of effective point of care diagnostics. Given Elasmogen’s expertise in therapeutic drug discovery, longer term opportunities may also include the development of therapeutic biologics capable of stopping viral infections by preventing the virus from recognizing human cells and ACE2 in particular.
Caroline Barelle, CEO of Elasmogen said “The Elasmogen team are delighted to be given the opportunity to deploy our soloMER technology platform to develop specific diagnostics against COVID-19 and are proud to be contributing to the global life sciences effort tackling this pandemic by working together with colleagues in Universities and other companies”.
Company Contact: Caroline Barelle, CEO, Elasmogen. firstname.lastname@example.org
Spun-out from the University of Aberdeen in 2016, Elasmogen is developing soloMERs™; fully humanized, next generation, single chain therapeutics for auto-inflammatory diseases and cancer. soloMERs™ are proprietary humanized clinical candidates derived from VNARS (variable new-antigen receptors) which exist naturally in sharks as high affinity binding domains. With a different ancestral origin from antibodies this example of 400 million year old convergent evolution places VNARs outside of the complex patent landscape that describes and protects antibody drug discovery and has produced the smallest (9% of the size of an antibody) and most robust naturally occurring binding domain. Elasmogen is unique in its capacity to isolate and develop soloMERs™, with a multi-layered IP position covering the platform, formats, products and process including an exclusive license to over 25 patents granted in the US, Europe and other territories.