PERTH, Australia – After gaining European clearance for its Eugeni COVID-19 rapid antigen test, Anteotech Ltd. reported a A$12 million (US$9.3 million) capital raise to launch its first global product that will help screen travelers, making it easier and safer to open borders.

The Brisbane, Australia-based company was largely unheard of before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but it has emerged as one of the few companies that has developed a low-cost, high sensitivity rapid COVID-19 test.

The company had been developing the technology that formed the basis of a test for sepsis, but when the pandemic hit, Anteotech quickly switched gears to develop its COVID-19 antigen test that delivers diagnostic results in 15 minutes, Anteotech CEO Derek Thomson told BioWorld. The Eugeni rapid COVID-19 antigen rapid test (ART) received the European CE mark earlier this month.

“Getting regulatory approval and a global launch was a big milestone for the company, he said. Once we hit it, we were quite well rewarded in the market.”

The rapid test will be especially useful in population screening at events or airports to screen for COVID-19 to reduce transmission in communities. The test is handheld and lends itself to be portable to take out in the field or in screening areas such as airports.

How it works

Eugeni is a point-of-care fluorescence assay reader designed to interpret test results as positive or negative for different diseases. It works by detecting a fluorescent signal from a test and emits a fluorescent signal when it detects the target analyte in a patient sample. The test is based on lateral flow technology.

The Eugeni COVID-19 antigen rapid test is a single-use, disposable immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic test intended to be used by health care professionals for qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigen via a nasopharyngeal specimen from people who are suspected of COVID-19 infection.

Although there are numerous tests in the lateral flow class on the market, Anteotech’s COVID-19 ART is differentiated by its speed and overall performance, Thomson said.

Derek Thomson, CEO, Anteotech Ltd.

“We believe we have a superior test with high sensitivity and specificity based on our unique Anteobind technology,” he said. “The test has an overall sensitivity of 97.3% and a specificity of 99.6%, which puts it in the upper echelon of tests.”

“The COVID-19 ART runs for 14 minutes in a cassette, and the reader is only tied up for a minute, so you could put 60 tests through in an hour for one reader,” he said. “Most readers need to be read immediately, but for ours you can leave it for two hours.”

“The third differentiator is that the test is built on the Eugeni platform that we’ve developed, and we’ve got a number of tests that we can and will bring out on that platform. One is a COVID-19 Flu A/Flu B test that will be out later this year, and then next year we’ll have a test out for sepsis.”

The company is also working on rolling out a new version of the test that works with saliva, and that will be ready to go in about May or June. That means the rapid test will be dual use via either nasopharyngeal or saliva sample.

Price points for the test will vary depending on markets, the CEO said. In the U.S. and Europe, it will be priced at about $10 to $12 per test for the COVID-19 ART.

The company is in the process of securing approval from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and hopes to launch the product in Australia in June 2021. It plans on manufacturing the product in Australia.

Anteotech’s technology is currently being used by Brisbane-based Ellume Ltd., which recently announced a $231 million supply agreement with the U.S. government for its COVID-19 home tests. Ellume is using Anteotech’s underlying Anteobind technology for surface management of particles.

Anteobind is an aqueous nanosized molecular glue made of polymeric metal ions used to facilitate multivalent coordination to bind polymers, antibodies and proteins to synthetic substrates in assay development.

Capital raise

To commercialize the rapid COVID-19 ART, Anteotech reported a A$12 million placement of 46.2 million new ordinary shares priced at A26 cents per share. It also plans a share purchase plan to raise an additional A$4 million from eligible shareholders at the same share price. PAC Partners Securities Pty Ltd acted as sole lead manager for the placement.

Funds from the placement will be used to scale up and launch the Eugeni reader and IVD rapid COVID-19 antigen test. The company will also use some of the funds to accelerate its pipeline of other assay tests. The Queensland government also contributed a A$1.4 million grant to progress the COVID-19 rapid test.

Anteotech’s shares on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX:ADO) were trading at A40 cents at close of trading April 29. The share price has nearly doubled in the last month.