Irish biotech provides the raw materials in testing times
Irish biotech company Aalto Bio has announced the availability of a new protein to test and diagnose the novel Coronovarius. It is now available for diagnostic test manufacturers, vaccine developers, and researchers globally, for use in the fight against Covid-19. The company’s new recombinant SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein (code CK 6404) will, it hopes, be of critical importance in stemming the current pandemic.
SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19 as it is also known, was declared a Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), due to the unprecedented international spread of the disease. All coronaviruses are enveloped positive-sense RNA viruses that affect many species and have the potential to cause pandemic disease outbreaks.
All viruses have Nucleocapsid (N), Spike (S), Envelope (E) and Membrane (M) structural proteins and some also encode a hemagglutinin–esterase (HE) protein.
The nucleocapsid protein plays a fundamental role during virion assembly – a late stage part of the viral life cycle – through its interactions with the viral genome and membrane protein M. It also has an essential role in enhancing the efficiency of subgenomic viral RNA transcription, as well as viral replication.
“Patients are currently being screened for the virus by PCR (polymerase chain reaction)”, explained Philip Noone, CEO of Aalto Bio Reagents, “however there is an important need for serological tests as well to detect all those mild or even asymptomatic cases that may otherwise be missed.”
The prevalence of these asymptomatic cases can lead to a rise in community transmission of a disease, simply because, without symptoms, carriers don’t realise they have it. “Sero-epidemiologic investigations, such as those aimed to better understand transmission characteristics and severity of COVID-19, are also essential,” he said.
“The medical field and diagnostic industry has an unrelenting requirement for access to the most scientifically proven raw materials in outbreak situations like this, where fast diagnosis is required. With our new SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein we endeavour to meet this urgent demand”.
The company has a long track record in helping to fight infectious disease, having been founded in 1978 to supply raw materials to the global diagnostics industry.
Today it produces more than 300 different reagents which are used to diagnose a huge range of diseases around the world, including serious tropical viruses such as dengue, yellow fever and zika virus.
As such the award winning innovator is firmly established as a leading manufacturer and provider of raw materials to the in-vitro diagnostics industry and research laboratories globally.
It supplies the largest multinational companies in the industry with a broad range of purified human proteins, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, fungal, parasitic, bacterial and viral antigens as well as disease state plasma for in-vitro diagnostic applications.
“We have two main types of customers, the high-tech diagnostic company and the companies who are creating vaccines to treat emerging diseases,” Noone told Enterprise Ireland. “With any of these diseases, there is a race to find a vaccine.”