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Aegea Biotechnologies Advances to Semi-Finals of the $5M XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing Competition

Aegea Biotechnologies' New, Highly Sensitive PCR-based COVID-19 Assay Utilizing Patented Switch-Blocker Technology Advances in the Global XPRIZE Competition Seeking "Faster, Cheaper, and Easier-to-Use COVID-19 Testing Methods at Scale"

September 14, 2020

Aegea Biotechnologies, Inc. a biotechnology company focusing on the development and commercialization of next-generation nucleic acid and clinical diagnostic technologies, announces that it has been selected as a semi-finalist in the prestigious XPRIZE competition for rapid COVID testing.

Aegea Biotechnologies notes XPRIZE is renowned for its worldwide competitions to solve humanity’s most important challenges. The $5 million, XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing competition was launched this summer to accelerate the development of high-quality COVID-19 testing that is affordable, easy to use, and that has a fast turnaround time.  These improved COVID-19 tests would enable more frequent testing.  A goal of the XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing competition is to increase the scale of COVID-19 testing capabilities by a hundredfold over our current standard, in order to more safely return to everyday activities.  Approximately 700 teams spanning six continents registered for the XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing competition.

Aegea advanced to the XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing Semi-Finals after sharing results of a new, highly sensitive, quantitative PCR-based assay for detecting SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus) that Aegea designed and is developing and validating clinically in collaboration with Biocept, Inc.  The COVID-19 PCR assay utilizes Switch-Blocker technology, which is patent protected in the United States and in 10 major international territories and is jointly owned by Aegea and Biocept. Under an associated cross-license agreement, Aegea has exclusive rights in the field of infectious disease, and Biocept has certain rights within the field of clinical oncology, where Biocept has used the technology to identify and report rare cancer-associated mutations in more than 20,000 cancer patients to aid medical treatment decisions.

In addition to high sensitivity and specificity, affordability and fast turnaround time, Aegea’s test is designed to provide additional information on specific strain types of SARS-CoV-2.

“We are pleased to compete for the XPRIZE and to put our inventions and ideas towards solving an urgent global health need.  Aegea’s new COVID-19 test utilizes the single nucleotide discrimination capacities of the patented Switch-Blocker technology to differentiate itself from other COVID-19 PCR assays,” said Lyle J. Arnold, Ph.D., Founder & CEO of Aegea.  “Our assay is designed to detect low copy numbers of viral RNA, therefore it could potentially detect the viral load at lower levels than other PCR-based assays.  This could be enormously helpful in reducing the infection rate because it has been reported that asymptomatic patients are able to infect others.  At the same time, due to its high sensitivity, our assay should allow multiple patient samples to be pooled into a single assay, to greatly speed up the number of patients tested. Additionally, our COVID-19 PCR assay is designed with the ability to identify high-risk and low-risk strains of SARS-CoV-2, which could significantly aid medical decision-making, for identifying patients most in need of hospitalization. It also distinguishes SARS-CoV-2, which is associated with COVID-19, from other common forms of the SARS virus.”

Aegea Biotechnologies Chief Business Officer, Stella M. Sung, Ph.D., adds, “In addition to applying proprietary science, Aegea has established strategic collaborations that will enable us to quickly scale and commercialize our COVID-19 PCR test. Biocept, has a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited high-complexity molecular lab, and has the ability to run our high throughput, multiplexed assays. Biocept also has a right of first negotiation for use of the assay in its clinical laboratory. Separately, Tauriga Sciences (OTC/QB: TAUG) has extensive relationships with manufacturers and distributors to help with supply chain issues and commercial opportunities. Being a semi-finalist for the XPRIZE will further accelerate Aegea’s development and commercialization timelines. Our immediate goal is to get a fast, accurate, affordable, accessible, information-rich test to the market.  Our long-term purpose is to equip our global community with a powerful tool for managing pandemics and for saving lives.”

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