Fusion shares soar on news of antigens for Covid-19 tests

Northern Ireland pharma research group offering antigens on a commercial basis

Shares in Northern Ireland pharmaceutical research company Fusion Antibodies soared on Friday after the company said it had developed high-purity antigens on a commercially-viable scale for the development of diagnostic tests for Covid-19.

The group is offering the antigens on a commercial basis to companies and researchers across the world. Its shares on the London Stock Exchange were up more than 64 per cent following the news.

Established in 2001 as a spin-out from Queen’s University, Fusion is a Belfast-based contract research organisation providing a range of antibody engineering services for the development of antibodies for both therapeutic drug and diagnostic applications.

The company said on Friday it had made progress on the design, expression and validation of SARS-CoV-2 proteins, commonly known as coronavirus spike proteins.

These antigens have been tested by external partners against patient blood samples and show a 100 per cent correlation with results from a leading certified benchmark test.

Unlike the tests currently used to identify the presence of Covid-19, Fusion’s antigens are able to confirm recent past infections and determine levels of neutralising antibodies to Covid-19.

“This could be invaluable for disease modelling and public health policy as it will assist in the determination of true transmission rates and case fatality rates,” the group said.

“The company has commenced use of these antigens to interrogate the library for SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies with a view to providing these as potential prophylactic and therapeutic candidates.”


Dr Richard Buick, chief technology officer of Fusion Antibodies, said: “We are committed to developing the highest quality reagents to be used in the fight against Covid-19.

“Recent lab studies have shown that results using our antigens correlate 100 per cent with clinical data from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2.

“We are using these high-quality antigens to pan our human antibody library for SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies, and we are delighted to now be able to make these antigens available to companies and researchers around the world to test, track and trace this disease.”

Paul Kerr, chief executive of Fusion Antibodies, said: "According to the FDA, antigen tests will play a critical role in the fight against Covid-19, and like many other companies within the antibody world at large, we are leveraging our antigen expertise to create multiple antigens to be used against the Covid-19 pandemic."

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter