British biotechnology company Oxford BioDynamics has partnered with specialist researcher and biobank Boca Biolistics to advance the development of its prognostic test for Covid-19.

Under the terms of the agreement, Oxford BioDynamics will receive a diverse range of blood samples from Covid-19 patients, with detailed clinical information on disease severity to support product development of its EpiSwitch prognostic immune-response test.

According to the firm, the 3D structure of a patient’s genome contains over one million molecular regulatory data points, and these can be interrogated from a patient’s blood using the EpiSwitch technology to determine what makes certain patients particularly vulnerable to hyperinflammation and severe side effects when exposed to Covid-19.

Oxford BioDynamics CEO Dr. Jon Burrows said: “Working with an established integrated industry partner is another step on the path to commercialising our disease severity program for Covid-19.

“Boca Biolistics has a global footprint and a proven track record for delivering high-quality annotated samples and supporting frontline test developments and deployment.

“This strategic partnership follows quickly on from the recent agreement with the prestigious Oregon Health & Science University which has provided us with Covid-19 samples for our product development.

“It is the range of samples we are accumulating which will enable us to create a detailed understanding of how the 3D genomic structure of our DNA determines our immune health.

“This in turn will provide a powerful basis for our forthcoming EpiSwitch test.”

According to Oxford BioDynamics, an understanding of individual disease severity risk will allow healthcare professionals to better devise risk mitigation strategies that protect the workforce as well as optimising the acute and long-term treatment decisions made for patients with Covid-19.

The partnership will add to Oxford BioDynamics’ existing database of more than 500 UK and US samples, with plans to procure them from the US, the Caribbean and South America.

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed by either company.


Oxford BioDynamics research into “long Covid”

Oxford BioDynamics is currently working with severe and mild sample cohorts procured from Peru.

Currently, Peru has the highest Covid-19 mortality rate – over 100 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants – to date, surpassing Brazil as well as Chile.

In addition to these samples, Boca Biolistics will procure longitudinal cohorts observing the same patients over time, to enable prognostic insights into “long Covid” – a serious complication for patients who have recovered but continue to experience symptoms such as profound fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches or cognitive impairments.

Boca Biolistics chief development officer Valentin Adia said: “With the expertise Boca Biolistics has developed from our involvement in other global viral outbreaks, including Zika, we look forward to contributing our know how in infectious disease management, laboratory testing, and clinical trial services to Oxford BioDynamics in the broader effort to respond to Covid-19.

“We believe our expertise in some of the hardest hit territories such as Peru will be especially key.”