Monday 13 July 2020
Here is our summary of the day's hottest RNS alerts from across London's Alternative Investments Market (AIM).
Avacta Group (AVCT.LSE)
Collaboration with Integumen plc for Detection of SARS-COV-2 Coronavirus in Waste Water
Partnership to evaluate the use of Affimer reagents to detect the coronavirus using novel sensors
Avacta Group plc, the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, announced that it has entered into a collaboration with Integumen plc (SKIN.LSE) to evaluate recently generated Affimer reagents that bind the SARS-COV-2 spike protein for the detection of the coronavirus in waste water, to provide a real-time alert system to warn of localised COVID-19 outbreaks.
Over 60 percent of COVID-19 positive patients had gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, and the SARS-COV-2 virus was found in their faecal samples. Sampling waste water from households may therefore provide an early warning system for localised outbreaks in communities.
Recently, Avacta announced that it had generated a number of highly specific Affimer reagents that detect the SARS-COV-2 virus spike protein for use in diagnostic tests and in neutralising therapies.
The collaboration with Integumen announced today aims to evaluate some of these Affimer reagents in next-generation sensors, based on the real-time bacteria detection and alert system1 developed by Rinocloud Ltd, a subsidiary of Integumen, with the aim of integrating these sensors into Modern Water plc's Microtox water contamination system to detect the coronavirus. The award-winning Microtox system, which can detect the presence of contaminating bacteria, virus and toxins, is distributed by Modern Water and has a global footprint of over 3,000 installations. The proposed Affimer sensors would be consumable items to be replaced on a roughly monthly basis.
Once initial testing of the Affimer reagents is completed over the next few weeks, validation of the sensors will be carried out using SARS-COV-2 virus samples in a containment level 3 laboratory at the University of Aberdeen. Upon successful completion of this evaluation, Integumen and Avacta will enter into a supply agreement to allow Integumen to manufacture and commercialise the waste water detection sensors globally by retrofitting into Microtox systems.
Integumen Plc (SKIN.LSE)
Partners with Avacta for novel SARS-CoV-2 sensors
Integumen has signed a Material Transfer Agreement with Avacta plc to evaluate the immobilisation of Avacta's affirmer ® proteins on a novel sensor for the purpose of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. The Avacta affimers have the potential to play a key role in the real-time identification of localised COVID-19 hotspots in wastewater, from which authorities can be alerted through Integumen's real-time alert system to prevent the spread of the disease to the wider community. Each party is responsible for its own costs in respect of the evaluation.
The MTA formalises Integumen's access to Avacta's Affimers to be coated onto Integumen's proprietary silicon wafer nano-photonic surfaces. Integumen, who are already well advanced with the miniaturisation of the virus detection prototype, will make use of up to six Affimers to be tested at the Company's York, UK, manufacturing facilities, which specialises in laboratory grown human skin equivalents specifically designed to host bacteria, virus and fungi. Once initial testing on the Affimers is completed over the next few weeks, validation of the sensors on the real SARS-CoV-2 virus will be carried out at the containment level 3 ("CL3") laboratory in the University of Aberdeen.
Upon successful completion of the evaluation, Integumen and the Avacta will enter into a supply agreement for the supply of Affimers into Integumen's sensors which will initially be integrated and retrofitted into Modern Water plc's Microtox water contamination system units to detect the coronavirus. The Microtox system, which can detect the presence of contaminating bacteria, virus and toxins but not yet identify them, is distributed by Modern Water and has a global footprint of over 3,000 installations.
Novacyt S.A. (NCYT.LSE)
Half-Year Trading Update
Novacyt, an international specialist in clinical diagnostics, announced an unaudited trading update for the six months ended 30 June 2020.
Unaudited revenue for the first half of 2020 increased over 900% to €72.4 million (£63.3 million), compared to revenue of €7.2 million (£6.3 million) for the first half of 2019, with 91% of revenue accounted for in the second quarter. For the half year, the Group estimates EBITDA profitability over €45 million (£41 million). This follows the successful launch of one of the world's first molecular tests for COVID-19, which the Company rapidly developed and launched in January 2020.
The Company's cash position as at 30 June 2020 was €20 million (£18 million) (cash as at 31 December 2019 of €1.8 million (£1.6 million)) . This strong cash position is after significant investment to meet continued demand for the COVID-19 test expected in the second half of the year. It is also reported after paying down all outstanding debt, making Novacyt debt free for the first time in the Company's history.
Demand for the Company's COVID-19 test remains strong, with June sales of €25.4 million (£22.5 million) showing the sixth consecutive month of growth. Certain contracts for the supply of the test have also been extended into the second half of the year and in some cases into 2021. W ith the daily global incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections continuing to rise, Novacyt expects significant ongoing demand for COVID-19 testing well into 2021 . It is a sad fact that as of 11 July 2020, the number of global cases is more than 12.7 million, an increase of 69% compared to 11 June 2020.
In the US, the Company has signed a major distribution agreement for its COVID-19 test with a new global strategic partner. The US is delivering significant sales growth for Novacyt and this new agreement enables the Company to accelerate penetration of its COVID-19 test in this important market. This distribution agreement will focus initially on the US, with the potential to expand into further markets.
The Company remains well positioned to address the global need for COVID-19 testing, with its test being sold worldwide. It also has sufficient manufacturing capacity, raw materials and finished goods to meet the expected demand, having orchestrated a significant scale-up of operations during the half year. The Company continues to scale the business internally and has hired 45 people during the first half of the year, with plans to make further investment to strengthen the organisation in the second half of the year.
Development of the Company's COVID-19 test established Novacyt as a pioneer and a leader in COVID-19 diagnostics. Novacyt remains committed to building on this world-class innovative position for COVID-19 testing, and more broadly for respiratory disease testing, and is investing to address unmet needs in the market. Novacyt has already launched three new innovative products, COVID-HT, Exsig™ Direct and Exsig™ Mag , to support laboratories testing for COVID-19. These products are expected to drive incremental revenue and the Company received initial orders in June 2020 following their launch . Novacyt expects to provide an update on its investment in R&D to support continued growth, including a number of new products and innovations to be launched in the near future.
Given the visibility of orders, extended contracts and the launch of new COVID-19 related products, the Company anticipates revenue for the second half of the year to be greater than the first half of the year and margins to be at least at a similar level. As a result, there is expected to be greater cash generation in the second half of the year and the Company is reviewing its capital allocation policy to enhance and accelerate long-term value creation through its three-pillar strategy of organic, R&D and acquisitive growth.
For full RNS details, see: https://www.investegate.co.uk/novacyt-s-a---ncyt-/rns/half-year-trading-update/202007130700057379S/