Biolidics says will take up to 9 months to incorporate A*Star tech into new Covid-19 tests

Biolidics' Rapid Test Kit for Covid-19.
Biolidics' Rapid Test Kit for Covid-19.PHOTO: BIOLIDICS LIMITED

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Covid-19 test kit maker Biolidics said late on Thursday (July 16) that it anticipates it will take up to nine months to incorporate technology it recently licensed from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) into a new serology test kit.

It was responding to queries from the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Wednesday around the timing and details of the Catalist-listed company's announcement on Tuesday night.

In the announcement, Biolidics said it had on July 9 entered into a five-year licence agreement with A*Star's commercialisation arm for non-exclusive worldwide rights to the agency's technology for the detection of Covid-19 viral spike/Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) blocking antibodies for diagnostic use, to further develop the technology and to market new serology tests that incorporate the technology.

Biolidics on Thursday said it is currently in the initial phase of the product's development, and had shortlisted a number of potential partners for product development, optimisation, validation and eventual commercialisation of the technology and/or licensed products.

It is still in the process of assessing these partners, it said.

"As described in the (Tuesday) announcement, the company would like to highlight again that there is no certainty that the company will be able to, among others, successfully develop the serology tests which incorporate the technology," it added.

On queries whether it provided any consideration for being granted the rights to use A*Star's technology, Biolidics said it was obliged to pay for the use of the technology, but that the terms of its payment were confidential, and it was not in its interest to publicly disclose them.

It added that it had the right to use the technology and develop its own enhancements during the five-year agreement term. After the term, it will only own the enhancements it has created on its own, and will no longer have the right to use the technology.

SGX had also asked whether there were conditions to be met before Biolidics could market serology tests incorporating A*Star's technology, and when the company expected to be able to market these tests.

The bourse operator questioned Biolidics on how far along it was in successfully incorporating the technology into its Covid-19 antibody test kit, or any other form of serology tests.

Biolidics on Thursday clarified that it intends to incorporate the technology only into new serology tests, and not its existing Covid-19 Antibody Test Kit.


It said it is unable to provide any indication on when it would be able to market these serology tests, if developed.

Biolidics is required to perform validation of the tests before seeking regulatory authorisations and/or approvals, it said. The commercialisation of the tests depends on the time required to obtain these approvals, and Biolidics' ability to obtain suitable product liability insurance.

Biolidics said it was not, at the current point in time, able to provide any indication of the time required for validation to be completed and to obtain the relevant regulatory approvals.

It added there was no certainty it could successfully develop the tests, achieve regulatory approvals, and commercialise the tests.

The company will make the necessary announcements to update shareholders and potential investors as and when there are material developments.

SGX on Wednesday also asked Biolidics to provide reasons for its delay in announcing the A*Star pact.

The company explained that the agreement was signed after trading hours on July 9. As July 10 was Polling Day, and July 11 and 12 was a weekend, the company was only able to finalise the contents of its announcement on July 14, it said.

Biolidics' sponsor and board approved the announcement on July 14 at around 9.37 pm and 10.45 pm respectively, it added.

"The announcement, which would not have a material impact on the current financial year, was disclosed with the intention of keeping the market updated," Biolidics said.

It added that its sponsor was aware and was consulted on the disclosure of the A*Star agreement, and the sponsor had advised Biolidics to monitor its share price and trading activities prior to the release of the announcement.

The sponsor had provided comments on various drafts of the announcement and was apprised of the comments on the draft announcement received from various parties.

The sponsor also advised Biolidics to call for a trading halt on July 13 after consultation with SGX, Biolidics added.

Biolidics jumped 29.3 per cent on Monday before it called for a trading halt at 12.19pm. It released the A*Star announcement on Tuesday at 10.46pm, before lifting the halt on Wednesday morning ahead of the market's opening bell.

Shares of Biolidics fell 4.5 cents or 10.3 per cent to 39 cents on Thursday, before the company posted its response to SGX.