Universal Biosensors (ASX:UBI) - CEO, John Sharman
CEO, John Sharman
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  • Universal Biosensors (UBI) has entered into a global exclusive licence agreement with IQ Science for commercialisation of a SARS-CoV-2 N-Protein detection test
  • The COVID-19 test will utilise UBI’s proprietary electrochemical strip and device technology designed to provide a result within 30 seconds from a small saliva sample
  • UBI has been working with Dr Shalen Kumar of IQ Science for six months on the aptamer technology and the performance quality of IQ science products and says its COVID-19 test should be ready for market in the next 9 to 18 months
  • Under the licence agreement, payment of the commercialisation fees is triggered on the earlier of receiving a regulatory approval for the test or generating $1 million of sales
  • Universal Biosensors shares are up 3.98 per cent to trade at 92 cents at 1:11 pm AEDT

Universal Biosensors (UBI) has entered into a global exclusive licence agreement with IQ Science for the commercialisation of a SARS-CoV-2 N-Protein detection test.

The COVID-19 test will utilise UBI’s proprietary electrochemical strip and device technology designed to provide a result within 30 seconds from a small saliva sample.

UBI’s test method also has the potential to measure the relative viral load associated with a patient’s infection status.

UBI has been working with Dr Shalen Kumar of IQ Science for six months on the aptamer technology and the performance quality of IQ science products.

Dr Kumar founded IQ Science in 2020 and the company says he has over 12 years of experience in the field of aptamers with eight patent inventions and has successfully developed ELONA assays, microfluidic systems, electrochemical biosensing and lateral flow assays.

Under the licence agreement, payment of the commercialisation fees is triggered on the earlier of receiving regulatory approval for the test or generating $1 million of sales.

Where the commercialisation fees are not yet payable, a pre commercialisation fee of $50,000 per year will be paid for a maximum of three years.

Finally, where they become payable, either a minimum payment of $50,000 in the first year which increases to $100,000 each year and up to a maximum of $450,000 or if they are greater than the minimum payment, the fees will be calculated on a percentage of sales.

The licence will become non-exclusive if the COVID-19 test is not commercialised within five years and a buy-out option is contained which can be exercised by UBI under certain circumstances at a cost of 6 times the maximum commercialisation fees paid in any year over the previous five years.

Universal Biosensors CEO, John Sharman, says the deal will be the first time its platform will use aptamers as a detection technique. 

“Aptamers are a next generation biorecognition element which when combined with our existing technology platform should allow us to detect and measure a large number of targets,” he said.

“Based on what we know is available in the world today, a COVID-19 Test offering an accurate result within 30 seconds of the patient sample will be the first of its kind globally.”

IQ Science managing director, Dr Shalen Kumar, also commented.

“While aptamers have been in development for many years, the UBI platform is expected to be the first of its kind to offer advanced aptamer-sensing in a handheld portable device,” he said.

“In addition, it is possible the UBI platform will be able to quantify the amount of the virus in the sample which will lead to incredibly valuable data being generated for patients, physicians and governments around the world.”

Current rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 take 15 to 20 minutes to get a result and PCR tests are much more sensitive but take many days and are quite expensive, therefore, UBI says a test that could be performed in 30 seconds would represent a new capability to improve public health and safety.

Mr Sharman says UBI has already completed a series of work on the product.

“UBI has completed initial feasibility work on the SARS-CoV-2 N-Protein based test over the last 6 months and we have shown that we can generate a positive or negative COVID-19 response within 30 seconds from a small saliva sample,” he said.

“Our initial feasibility work which comprised approximately 100 tests (carried out as per ISO13485) has shown the necessary sensitivity (1.4 fg/mL) but we still need to confirm the test’s specificity. The test performance is predicted to have similar limits of detection to the Gold Standard RT-PCR methods.”

The market for COVID-19 testing is estimated to be US$19 billion in 2021. 

The company says its product should be ready for market in the next 9 to 18 months.

Universal Biosensors shares are up 3.98 per cent to trade at 92 cents at 1:11 pm AEDT.

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