Heathrow Covid-19 test born in Oxford is bought by Hong Kong genetics company

Oxsed Heathrow

A company only launched this summer by Oxford University Innovation as a social enterprise to develop a rapid COVID-19 test, which is already being used at London Heathrow Airport, has been bought by DNAFit Life Sciences Limited, part of Hong Kong-based Prenetics Limited.

DNAFit and Prenetics, a genetics and diagnostic health testing company, have acquired exclusive global rights to the Oxsed technology, which is based on research from Oxford University.

Prenetics will work with the Oxsed team on further R&D to fight the global pandemic. Under the terms of the acquisition, Oxsed will maintain its focus on prioritising low and middle-income countries.

As the next phase of the pandemic unfolds, it is critical that a rapid, accurate and more affordable COVID-19 point of care test be deployed globally to help people around the world resume a sense of normalcy for work, travel and for family.

Validated trials of the Oxsed test on the detection of SARS-CoV-19 demonstrate a 92-100 per cent positive agreement and its testing kit has received CE mark in the EU and MHRA in the UK.

OxsedThe Oxsed technology is already in use at London Heathrow for pre-departure passengers where Prenetics and Collinson/Swissport has established a rapid testing facility. In Hong Kong, Prenetics has set-up an semi-automated laboratory and are using Oxsed as part of trials for arriving passengers which started on 28th October, 2020. The trials are part of the much-anticipated travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong. Prenetics is also in discussions with global international airports and will make announcements at the right time.

The Oxsed test is based on the work of Professors Zhanfeng Cui and Wei Huang, who led a team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research (OSCAR). The team developed a viral RNA molecular test identified as a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) using RT-LAMP technology. There are currently two nucleic acid amplification methods with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for diagnostic COVID-19 testing: real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and real time reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP). The significant advantage of RT-LAMP is that accurate results can be had within 15-30 minutes, rather than a minimum of 4-6 hours with RT-PCR, and can be performed in both a laboratory for high throughput or without a laboratory for point of care settings.

Following the acquisition, Oxford University Innovation, the University’s research commercialisation arm, will maintain management rights over Oxsed’s licence, ensuring the company’s social mission.

Danny Yeung, Co-Founder and Group CEO of Prenetics, said: “We are immensely proud to collaborate with Oxford University and Oxsed. This is truly a game-changer and we aim to make the technology available to millions of people globally. Rapid, accurate, and frequent testing is one of our most important interventions to prevent large outbreaks and for the global economy. It’s our quest to help everyone in the new “normalcy” and open borders for travel, schools, sports, events, elderly care homes and more.”

Professor Zhanfeng Cui, Co-Founder of Oxsed, added: “After months of intense work alongside with Prenetics, they are in no doubt the perfect partner to quickly roll out the Oxford Rapid test at scale, and help society resume a more normal way of living and productivity. Being a lifelong academic, I am very excited that Oxsed can provide a very well validated technology to the world.”

Adam Workman, Head of Investments & New Ventures at Oxford University Innovation, added: “This collaboration will enable fast global deployment of the Oxford Rapid Test, huge increase in production scale and potentially significant reduction in cost, which ultimately benefit the low- and middle-income countries in the world. I am excited to see that the Oxsed RaViD Direct test is already in use at two of the largest international airports, Heathrow and trials in Hong Kong.”

The Honourable Alfred Sit-Wing-Hang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of Hong Kong SAR, added: “Innovation is happening at a rapid pace and we are excited to see Prenetics, a home-grown startup be in the fore-front in the global fight against the pandemic. We look forward to further work with Prenetics closely on testing and encourage even the possibility of manufacturing Oxsed in Hong Kong.”