This new test can detect COVID-19 variants—quickly

March 2, 2021
Today, news on a new diagnostic that can detect COVID-19 variants—and a vaccine that looks like it might prevent them. We have details, plus the woman whose research led to the first genetically modified plants. (674 words, 3 minutes, 22 seconds)
BIO

Today, news on a new diagnostic that can detect COVID-19 variants—and a vaccine that looks like it might prevent them. We have details, plus the woman whose research led to the first genetically modified plants. (674 words, 3 minutes, 22 seconds)

 

This new test can detect COVID-19 variants—quickly

 
 

Vaccines are critical, but we can’t forget about the important role of diagnostics in pandemic containment—which is why we’re excited about news from a BIO member that created a new PCR-based test that can detect COVID-19 variants more quickly than DNA sequencing.

Novozymes, in collaboration with Copenhagen University Hospital and University of Oxford, is developing a PCR-based rapid test to detect new COVID-19 variants—including those from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa. 

The company develops products with enzymes and microbes to solve some of our biggest challenges—such as products to more effectively and sustainably clean surgical devices, or convert corn fiber into low-carbon ethanol.  

The new diagnostic tool “identifies what variant a patient is carrying in as little as 40 minutes, with results processed and delivered within 24 hours. Up to 120 samples can be analyzed in two hours,” reports The Telegraph

Centered around a molecule and “requiring only a small tweak to PCR tests,” as The New Scientist explains, the test is faster than DNA sequencing and can be adjusted to catch new variants that may pop up in the future. 

The new protocol is currently being tested on patient material. The expectation is that the protocol can be scaled up soon.   

Want to know more about Novozymes? Hear directly from the company’s scientists who are using enzymes to create better patient outcomes and a cleaner planet. To watch them tell their stories, visit www.bio.org/iambio.


More Agriculture & Environment News:

Biofuels Digest:  Washington state clean fuel standard bill passes House, heads to Senate
News came in late Friday from Washington State that the State House passed Bill 1091, a statewide clean fuel standard bill. The bill is headed to the State Senate. It passed the House with a vote of 52-46; this is the third year the House chamber has voted in support of the policy. The bill would adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program that would limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.

 
 
 
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The latest news from Novavax

 
 

Three vaccines already—and a fourth one, from Novavax, could be here very soon. 

Speaking on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” yesterday, Novavax CEO Stanley Erck suggested the company’s COVID-19 vaccine could be authorized for emergency use in the United States as early as May.

Novavax plans to file for authorization first in the UK, where the clinical trial demonstrated 95.6% efficacy against the original COVID-19 strain and 85.6% against the UK variant.

So far, the vaccine has “shown efficacy [against] all three strains,” he explained. The South Africa trial “showed that the vaccine works well,” reducing risk of COVID-19 illness by as much as 60%.

Now, the U.S. phase 3 trial is fully enrolled with 30K people, with data expected to be available “in a couple of months,”—though the company plans to ask the FDA to use the “really strong data” from the international trials, too.

Authorization would add hundreds of millions of more doses to the pipeline—110 million in the United States by the end of the third quarter, pending authorization. 

And whenever approval comes, Novavax says they’ll be ready. The company’s production plants should be ready to produce 150 million doses per month by May or June, reports Reuters—so they can deliver 1.1 billion doses to some of the world’s poorest countries through the COVAX Facility

Want to know more about Novavax? We got an exclusive look inside the Maryland-based biotech company back in the fall

Listen: Erck joined the I AM BIO Podcast last year to talk about Novavax’ vaccine platform. Get the episode at www.bio.org/podcast or your favorite podcast platform, including AppleGoogle, or Spotify.

 

More Health Care News:

The Atlantic: The surprising key to combatting vaccine refusal
“Dissent. Deliberation. Distrust. Indifference. Vaccine hesitancy is not one thing. It’s a portfolio. And we’re going to need a portfolio of strategies to solve it.”

The Washington Post: Merck to help make Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine
President Biden will announce the plan today, which is "an unusual pact between fierce competitors that could sharply boost the supply of the newly authorized vaccine, according to senior administration officials."

 
 
 
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BIO Celebrates Women's History Month
Mary-Dell Chilton.jpg

Mary-Dell Chilton established her own lab at Washington University in St. Louis in 1979, where her pioneering work in genetic engineering led to some of the first genetically modified plants.

In 1983, she demonstrated that Agrobacterium could be used to transfer genes from other organism into plants—providing an alternative to traditional plant breeding. She led a research study that produced the first transgenic plants—a.k.a. genetically modified (GM) plants. “This work pioneered the field of agricultural biotechnology and dramatically affected the way scientists conduct plant genetic research,” as Syngenta explains

Chilton founded the Biotech Research Center for CIBA-Geigy Corporation (a legacy company of Syngenta). Today, she is a distinguished science fellow at Syngenta. She has authored more than 100 scientific publications, and she was named World Food Prize Laureate in 2013.

 

 
BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
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President Biden’s Tuesday: Meeting with Senate Democrats to discuss the COVID-19 relief package, then giving remarks on the pandemic at 4:15 PM ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Today, we’re watching a hearing in the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health, The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care (10:30 AM ET). The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in United States v. Arthrex Inc., a medical device company, which concerns the appointment of administrative patent judges.

How you can support BIO's advocacy on the Payroll R&D Credit: The Payroll R&D Credit, established five years ago this past December, for the first time allowed pre-revenue innovators to take a portion of their R&D credit against their payroll tax obligation. It served as a recognition from Congress that income tax credits provide no immediate benefit to pre-revenue biotechs.

To support BIO’s advocacy to make sure the credit works for small biotechs, we have partnered with EY on a study to analyze credit utilization among small companies.

Click here to take this important survey.
Your participation will be instrumental in supporting our advocacy moving forward. Any information provided will only be viewed by EY and only reported in aggregate.

Read more about BIO’s advocacy to strengthen the Payroll R&D Credit. 

Questions? Respond to this email and we'll get you an answer.

 
 
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