To keep up with demand, Sorrento acquires majority ownership in Covid-19 test maker – Endpoints News
To keep up with demand, Sorrento acquires majority ownership in Covid-19 test maker – Endpoints News

To keep up with demand, Sorrento acquires majority ownership in Covid-19 test maker – Endpoints News

In a move that the company hopes will increase its ability to respond to demand for their Covid-19 tests, Sorrento Therapeutics has acquired an ownership majority in a Chinese diagnostics manufacturer.

Sorrento Therapeutics will use Zhengzhou Fortune Bioscience to manufacture Covistix, its rapid antigen section test for Covid-19 and its variants. The tests are approved for emergency use and are on the market in Brazil and Mexico. The company now has majority ownership with the option to acquire 100% of the company.

The demand for Covid-19 testing has increased along with the prevalence of variants. US President Joe Biden pumped $ 562 million into US companies to boost domestic production of Covid-19 tests in October. Just a few weeks ago, manufacturers told Time the demand is so high that they are struggling to keep up. And some lawmakers, such as Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), have urged manufacturers to cut costs and increase affordability.

Brian Cooley

FortuneBio specializes in lateral flow diagnostic tests and has fecal occult blood tests, pregnancy tests and substance abuse tests approved in more than 20 countries. Its Zhengzhou, Henan, China site has the capacity to produce 10-million lateral flow tests a month, Sorrento said, and is currently expanding its production to keep up with demand.

Brian Cooley, Sorrento’s SVP for drug delivery and diagnostics, said that what sets Covistix apart is its ability to detect the Omicron variant thanks to a strong limit on detection sensitivity.

“Our lateral flow antigen test uses a platinum colloid coupled with a few specific antibodies to provide a clear black line whose virus is present, unlike many tests that use a gold colloid that results in a pink or red line. This proprietary platinum colloid technology is what is contributing to our improved Omicron LoD sensitivity, ”he said in a statement.

Shares in Sorrento have fallen in the past year. It increased by 260% towards the end of 2020, thanks to its monoclonal antibody, which it hyped up as a potential cure for the virus, despite the fact that it was not tested on animals or humans at that time. Great statements from Ji to one Fox News reporter caused the stock to triple in value, and the company benefited from announcing a $ 5 million license agreement with Columbia University for its saliva-based Covid-10 test.

Shares traded at $ 2.88 after the opening clock on Friday, far away from their $ 14.39 in February 2021.

In a statement, Sorrento CEO Henry Ji said:

Covistix demand is rising rapidly worldwide due to its high sensitivity compared to other EUA-approved tests. By acquiring a majority stake in FortuneBio, Sorrento is in a better position to respond quickly to the ever-changing demand for rapid COVID testing and expand our diagnostic product offering to other areas such as early cancer diagnosis. In addition to delivering product revenue from an established portfolio of approved diagnostic tests, FortuneBio Sorrento provides an experienced diagnostic research, development and production team and an ISO-certified facility to quickly promote and commercialize our antibody-activated diagnostic products in synergy with our antibody therapy . .

In August, Sorrento led $ 29 million fundraising round for San Diego-based biotechnology Aardvark Therapeutics Series B. This company is promoting its leading compound ARD-101 for Phase II trials.

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