Braveheart Inv Group (BRH.L) Further re Paraytec Limited

Further to the announcement made on 7 July 2020, Braveheart is pleased to provide an update concerning the development of a COVID-19 test that Paraytec Limited is conducting with the University of Sheffield.

WP1 Construction of a viral mimic

Braveheart previously reported on the successful production of the viral SPIKE protein. It can now report that sub-micron-sized polystyrene microspheres have been produced to which multiple copies of the SPIKE protein have been successfully bonded, generating a viral mimic that is the same size as the COVID-19 coronavirus, thus completing this workpackage.

WP2 Development of CAPTURE system

The CAPTURE module comprises a system in which a specialised surface is coated with a macromolecule that binds the virus very tightly. Here the virus-binding molecule undergoing analysis is COVID-19 DNA aptamer that has been supplied to Paraytec. The biotin-binding protein avidin has been bonded to the Capture module, which is composed of 10 micron microspheres, and the resultant surface coated with a biotinylated derivative of the aptamer, completing this workpackage.

WP3 Development of the Signal Generation Module

Construction of Signal Generation components has begun. The Signal Generation module consists of fluorescent-nanospheres derivatised with a synthetic COVID-19 virus binding protein that associates with trapped virus particles within 5 minutes. The DNA coding for the synthetic protein has been generated and has been introduced into cells growing in culture, to enable the protein to be purified and subsequently coated onto the nanospheres. Purified protein has been obtained and work has been initiated to ensure the protein will be correctly oriented when attached to nanospheres, to maximise the rate of association with viral particles, and thus the speed at which a test result can be generated.

Over the next month, it is expected that the construction of the Signal Generation module will be completed, which will lead the way to establishing proof-of-concept by early October.

Professor Carl Smythe commented “We continue to make progress in the development of this novel approach to testing for Coronavirus. A key requirement is the ability to deliver a test result with very fast turnaround. The current gold standard uses PCR which involves repeated rounds of enzyme-catalysed production of DNA corresponding to known viral genes, a process that takes several hours, and requires access to highly specialised lab equipment. Other approaches have begun to be rolled out (see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/roll-out-of-2-new-rapid-coronavirus-tests-ahead-of-winter ).

These, while avoiding specialised equipment, nonetheless also target viral genes, generating a positive signal via an enzyme-catalysed reaction, which takes 1.5 hours. This of necessity reduces the number of tests that can be performed in any one day. Our approach, in which viral attachment to affinity macromolecules may be imaged directly using a highly sensitive detection system, has the potential both to undertake many tests in parallel, as well as delivering results in minutes, all without the need for trained health professionals for their operation.

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