Avacta Group plc, of Cambridge, U.K., reported that several of the Affimer reagents recently generated for development of a point-of-care COVID-19 antigen saliva test have been shown to block the interaction between the virus’ spike protein and ACE2, a receptor on human cells that is key to the virus’ ability to reproduce. Such reagents potentially could prevent COVID-19 infection or act as neutralizing therapies.

Beyond Air Inc., of Garden City, N.J., has entered new common stock purchase and registration rights agreements with Lincoln Park Capital Fund (LPC), valued at up to $40 million. Under the agreements, LPC will buy up to 325,000 shares of common stock at $8.58 per share, a 10% premium on the average closing share price for the most recent five days. The agreements extend until May 2023 and replace existing agreements between the parties that are set to expire in August 2021.

Beaver-Visitec International Inc., of Waltham, Mass., has acquired the ophthalmic viscoelastic device assets of Sidney-based Croma Australia, a division of Croma-Pharma GmbH, for an undisclosed sum. In addition, the companies have agreed to collaborate on the research and development of future ophthalmic products.

Bluegrass Vascular Technologies Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, reported that the first U.S. commercial cases using the Surfacer Inside-Out Access Catheter System were completed at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif.

Redwood City, Calif.-based C3.ai has added 11 new integrated COVID-19 datasets to its COVID-19 Data Lake. The data lake offers researchers free access to normalized, unified data to speed efforts in fighting the pandemic.

Piscataway, N.J.-based Genscript Biotech Corp. has joined forces with Duke-NUS Medical School and the Agency for Sciences, Technology and Research (A*STAR), both of Singapore, to codevelop and manufacture what they claim is the first SARS-CoV-2 serology test to detect neutralizing antibodies in patients infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The surrogate virus neutralization test, called Cpass, can be conducted within an hour in most research or clinical labs and does not need a biocontainment facility or live specimens. Singapore’s Diagnostics Development Hub validated the kit, and it has been provisionally approved by the Health Sciences Authority.

Microbix Biosystems Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, has named R-Biopharm AG, of Darmstadt, Germany, as distributor of its quality assessment products in eight European countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Proactive MD, of Mauldin, S.C., and Denver-based Spoke Health are teaming up with the Brown County, Indiana government and school system to launch a first-of-its-kind mobile solution offering automated triage, telehealth and ongoing COVID-19 care communications.

Basel, Switzerland-based Roche Holding AG has released V-Tac, a digital solution that allows clinicians to obtain arterial blood gas values from patients with respiratory or metabolic abnormalities via a less-invasive venous method. The tool, which is available in CE mark markets, could help to screen, diagnose and monitor patients with breathing problems related to COVID-19. Separately, Roche reported that it has become a founding partner in the second phase of Baselaunch, a Basel-based incubator and accelerator focused on biotech companies. Baselaunch has increased the funding available per venture to $500,000 to support early-stage innovation.

Unitedhealth Group, of Minnetonka, Minn., and Redwood, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. have jointly launched Protectwell, a protocol and app to support return-to-work planning and COVID-19 symptom screening. The tool is powered by Microsoft Azure, artificial intelligence and analytics, and leverages the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service for use in COVID-19 symptom triaging.

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