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Arctoris supports global research efforts to find new therapeutics against COVID-19

14 Jul 2020

The company is also involved in projects that aim to enable population-level screening for the current coronavirus.

To help scientists continue their life-saving R&D, and ensure research continuity, Arctoris has established a broad range of remotely accessible COVID-19 assays. These include biochemical profiling for COVID-19 drug targets, as well as cellular and molecular assays conducted in its robotic facility in Oxford.

Discovering new treatments for COVID-19 requires profiling novel compounds against key targets in both biochemical and cellular contexts. Pursuing these steps in parallel expedites the generation of comprehensive data sets critical to progress new compounds towards the clinic. "Our platform enables these activities to be executed at unprecedented quality and speed while ensuring greater depth of data and insights," explained Daniel Thomas Head of Discovery Biology at Arctoris.

A recently completed project saw Arctoris deploying its platform to rapidly generate mechanistic pharmacology for both marketed and research inhibitors against the JAK family of kinases. The possible candidates were identified by Novartis and other pharma companies for COVID-19 repurposing. Four target-based assays (JAK1, JAK2, JAK3, and TYK2) were developed, optimised, and fully automated in a total of less than 100 hours, generating comprehensive datasets containing more than 1 million data points.

In addition to making its advanced robotic capabilities available to researchers around the world, the Arctoris team is also involved in projects that aim to enable population-level screening for COVID-19. One such research project focused on increasing testing capacity for COVID-19 by developing a mathematical decision support tool that can aid testing efforts making use of sample pooling approaches.

Using high sensitivity PCR-based diagnostic approaches, several patients’ samples were assessed in one test, only continuing with further tests if the pooled test came back positive, thereby saving time and resources. Sample pooling approaches are now under investigation by several countries worldwide, including the US, Germany, and India.

The results of the work are available to the public through a preprint on arXiv and as an open access online tool for frontline medical staff, lab technicians, and policymakers.

"This study is unique in that we bring together expertise from the academic and the corporate sector to provide a theoretical framework and practical guidance on how to maximise the number of people that can be tested during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of this research project show that by adopting sample pooling approaches, we can increase testing capacity by a factor of eight with the current lab infrastructure," said Martin-Immanuel Bittner, CEO of Arctoris.

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