Thursday 18 June 2020
Here is our summary of the day's hottest RNS alerts from across London's Alternative Investments Market (AIM).
Avacta Group (AVCT.LSE)
Update on Affimer® Therapy for COVID-19 Infection
Avacta Group plc, the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, announced that collaborative work with the Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow has shown that Affimer reagents which bind to the SARS-COV-2 virus spike protein prevent infection of human cells by a SARS-COV-2 model virus and therefore provide a potential therapy for COVID-19 infection.
Recently, Avacta reported that several of the Affimer reagents that had been generated to develop COVID-19 antigen tests inhibited the interaction between the coronavirus' spike protein and a receptor found on human cells, called ACE2, which the virus spike protein binds to as the first step in infecting cells.
Avacta has now successfully completed the initial phase of a collaboration with Professor David Bhella at the University of Glasgow showing that these "neutralising" Affimer reagents prevent a SARS-COV-2 model virus from entering human cells and therefore provide a potential therapy for COVID-19.
Affimer reagents have key benefits compared with antibodies as virus neutralising therapies: Their small size and high solubility means that a much higher concentration of Affimer molecules can be used in the drug formulation to more effectively block the spike proteins on each virus particle and better protect the patient; bispecific and trispecific Affimer neutralising therapies that bind to more than one part of the spike protein could ensure the effectiveness of the neutralising therapy even if the virus' spike protein mutates.
Work is continuing with Professor Bhella to further study the way in which the Affimer reagents prevent infection and Avacta is using this growing body of data actively to secure a large pharmaceutical partner to develop these potential therapeutic candidates rapidly.
Novacyt S.A. (NCYT.LSE)
Three new products to support COVID-19 testing
Novacyt , an international specialist in clinical diagnostics, announced the launch of three new products to support laboratories testing for COVID-19. These are Exsig™ Direct and Exsig™ Mag, two RNA extraction kits for use prior to running a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19, and COVID-HT, a high-throughput test for COVID-19.
Exsig™ Direct and Exsig™ Mag
In addition to supporting laboratories through the supply of its COVID-19 test, Novacyt has developed two RNA extraction kits, Exsig™ Direct and Exsig™ Mag, to help address the current reported global shortfall in extraction reagents required to perform PCR testing. The extraction of RNA is a key pre-analytical step in COVID-19 testing and must be performed before running the PCR test on the RNA extract. The two kits can be used with all open instrument platforms for running a PCR test and offer customers different benefits; Exsig™ Direct provides significant workflow improvements whilst Exsig™ Mag offers enhanced sensitivity of the Company's COVID-19 test.
Exsig™ Direct is an innovative direct-to-PCR extraction kit which removes the need for complex, automated magnetic bead extraction systems. It is designed to be used with the Company's COVID-19 test and is expected to significantly improve laboratory workflow, reduce cycle times, increase throughput by up to 50% and reduce costs. It uses a combination of optimised buffers to extract COVID-19 RNA from clinical samples. These buffers have been specifically designed and clinically tested to ensure the high level of testing performance of the Company's COVID-19 test is maintained. Novacyt also plans to optimise the use of this new extraction method in future PCR tests to be developed and launched by the Company.
Exsig™ Mag is a new extraction kit designed to run on multiple automated magnetic bead extraction systems commonly used by clinical laboratories around the world. Exsig™ Mag has been developed to enhance extraction of COVID-19 RNA from clinical samples and, when used in combination with the Company's COVID-19 test, offers ultra-sensitive detection of COVID-19. Exsig™ Mag can also be used in combination with other COVID-19 PCR tests.
COVID-HT is a new test for COVID-19 optimised for use in laboratories performing high volumes of tests. The CE Mark test has been designed and validated to perform at the same high levels of specificity and sensitivity as the Company's existing COVID-19 test.
COVID-HT uses the Company's proprietary master mix which, unlike the standard COVID-19 kit, requires no premixing, and the test components are packaged to facilitate a more streamlined workflow in a highly automated laboratory setting. As a result, COVID-HT is expected to improve operational efficiency and save time and labour associated with handling and preparing the test for use.
Exsig™ Direct, Exsig™ Mag and COVID-HT are immediately available and manufacturing capacity has been developed to meet potential demand.
88 Energy Limited (88E.LSE)
XCD Energy Takeover Offers Declared Unconditional
88 Energy Limited announced that it has declared its recommended off-market takeover offers for all of the ordinary shares and listed options in XCD Energy Limited free from all defeating conditions.
As at 7pm (Sydney time) on 17 June 2020, 88 Energy had a relevant interest in 59.27% of XCD Energy's shares and 28.53% of XCD Energy's listed options.
Notices in accordance with section 650F and section 630(3) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) were provided to XCD Energy today and are attached to this announcement as Annexure A and Annexure B respectively.
ACCELERATED PAYMENT TERMS
88 Energy confirms that XCD Energy shareholders and listed option holders who validly accepted the Offers made to them before they were declared unconditional will be issued their consideration by 26 June 2020. Any XCD Energy shareholders and listed option holders who are yet to validly accept the Offers made to them will be issued with their 88 Energy shares and listed options within 7 business days of their acceptance being processed.
BEST AND FINAL OFFERS
88 Energy notes its Offers of:
· 2.4 new 88 Energy shares for every 1 of your XCD Energy shares; and
· 0.7 new 88 Energy shares for every 1 of your XCD Energy listed options,
are 88 Energy's BEST AND FINAL OFFERS which will not be increased.
MINORITY SHAREHOLDERS IN XCD ENERGY
If 88 Energy acquires a relevant interest in XCD Energy of 90% or more, 88 Energy intends to proceed with compulsory acquisition of any outstanding XCD Energy shares and listed options under Part 6A of the Corporations Act. If this occurs, XCD Energy security holders who have their XCD Energy shares and listed options acquired compulsorily will NOT be eligible for accelerated payment terms.
The Board of 88 Energy advises that, if remaining XCD Energy shareholders and listed options do not accept the Offers, and 88 Energy does not reach compulsory acquisition thresholds (which include a 90% relevant interest in XCD Energy) by the closing date of the Offers, they will remain a minority shareholder in XCD Energy with reduced influence in the running of the business. Should this occur, decisions made in respect of XCD Energy's business, under the control of 88 Energy, may impact XCD Energy shareholders and listed option holders who do not accept the Offers.
Further, 88 Energy's controlling position may affect the liquidity of the minority holders of securities in XCD Energy. This may increase the difficulty for minority securityholders to sell their XCD Energy shares or listed options at an attractive price. 88 Energy has indicated that it intends to have XCD Energy removed from the ASX, which would considerably decrease the liquidity for remaining XCD Energy shareholders and listed option holders.
HOW TO ACCEPT THE OFFERS
88 Energy urges all XCD Energy security holders who have not yet accepted the Offers made to them to ACCEPT WITHOUT DELAY and take advantage of the accelerated payment terms to become an 88 Energy security holder.
The Offers are currently scheduled to close on 7.00pm (Sydney time) on 25 June 2020.
Acceptance forms have been provided to XCD Energy listed securityholders. Securityholders who hold their XCD Energy shares and/or listed options through CHESS can instruct their broker to accept the Offers on their behalf.
If you have any queries in relation to how to accept the Offers or any other matter pertaining to the Offers, please do not hesitate to contact the 88 Energy Offer Information Line on 1300 095 745 (within Australia) or +61 3 9415 4300 (from outside Australia).
This announcement has been authorised by the Board of 88 Energy.