South Africa-based Cape Bio Pharms subsidiary Cape Biologix Technologies, Inno-3B, and PlantForm have signed a commercial agreement to increase the production of plant-based SARS-COV-2 antigens for a new Covid-19 antibody blood test.

According to the deal, Cape Biologix’s SARS-COV-2 antigens will be produced in plants grown by Inno-3B. PlantForm will extract, purify, and manufacture the antigens for use as the reagent in antibody test kits.

The three companies plan to provide fast, low-cost, and accurate plant-made proteins for Covid-19 monitoring and surveillance tools.

PlantForm CEO Dr Don Stewart said: “This collaboration meets a critical need for effective, low-cost and widespread serology testing to determine the prevalence of Covid-19 infection in different populations, its rate of spread and whether people who recover from it develop lasting immunity.”

Using technology initially developed by Cape Bio Pharms, Inno-3B, and PlantForm will produce the plant-based SARS-COV-2 antigens at their respective Canadian facilities in Saint-Pacôme, Quebec and Bolton in Ontario.

Cape Biologix CEO Belinda Shaw said: “It’s a simple finger-prick blood test that will detect whether a person has antibodies against the virus in their blood.

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“Continuous testing of communities is essential to provide a footprint of where the disease has been, as well as peace of mind to those who simply want to know – have I had it?”

Moreover, the test can deliver results within 15 minutes.

In addition, Cape Biologix has partnered with kit manufacturers in India for rapid scale-up of production earlier next year.

The company plans to supply proteins to test kit manufacturers across various international markets, including Brazil and Canada.