BEDFORDSHIRE, U.K.—Mologic Ltd. reported today that it has been awarded around £1 million by the Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development (DFID), as part of the U.K. government’s £46 million international coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention and research funding package. The funding will be used by Mologic and global partners to develop a point-of-need diagnostic test for the virus, in addition to supporting Mologic in initiating research for novel vaccine candidates.
“As seen with the COVID-19 outbreak, viruses can quickly transmit between populations; however, our knowledge to tackle this threat has also grown exponentially,” said professor Paul Davis, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Mologic. “For rapid epidemic preparedness and response, we need to develop a platform that is readily modified according to a novel pathogen, as we are demonstrating through our accelerated programs for Ebola and COVID-19.”
Mologic will build on the company’s experience in developing a rapid test kit for Ebola to create a hand-held diagnostics device to detect COVID-19. This will reportedly allow health officials to test for the virus at home or in the community, providing results in 10 minutes without the need for electricity or a laboratory. Rapid identification of the virus enables quicker quarantine and access to care, to support global efforts in preventing further spread — especially in vulnerable countries that have limited specialist facilities. Alongside their work on diagnostics, UK Aid is also supporting Mologic in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate for further evaluation.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is at a critical juncture, and to bring it to an end, we need next generation diagnostics for use at the point-of-need — at home or in the community, in limited and well-resourced settings. Rapid detection of the virus is important to stop its spread — we are pleased that the U.K. government has acknowledged this, supporting Mologic and the work of our partners to prevent further outbreaks internationally,” added Dr. Joe Fitchett, medical director of Mologic.
The company is working in close partnership with the Institut Pasteur de Dakar to validate and manufacture the COVID-19 test at a new manufacturing site, DiaTropix, in Senegal. This will be the first time that a diagnostics kit created in the U.K. will be jointly manufactured in Africa to ensure its immediate availability, and to manage any potential outbreaks on the continent and further international spread. Global validation partners include: the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St George’s, University of London in Europe; the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the University of Malaya in Asia; and in Latin America, Fiocruz.
“The COVID-19 epidemic highlights an unprecedented level of seeding of cases to vulnerable locations. We are proud of this partnership working with UK Aid to support all countries to have responsive and resilient diagnostics to control COVID-19. With Mologic, we are already applying support from the UK government and Wellcome Trust to develop successful diagnostics tests to detect and combat the spread of Ebola, which is close to being controlled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” noted Dr. Amadou Sall, director of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar. “DiaTropix’s remit is to responsively manufacture diagnostics for epidemics both for Africa and wherever they surface.”