Direct Investments

Portfolio company makes breakthrough in Coronavirus

Mercia Asset Management’s direct investment portfolio company, The Native Antigen Company, has announced that it has made a key breakthrough in reproducing the antigen for the Coronavirus.

Mercia first backed The Native Antigen Company through its managed funds in 2010 before making a direct investment in 2014. Since then the company has grown by 400% and now exports to public and private research centres in 25 countries.

The company announced just yesterday that its scientists had succeeded in less than five weeks to reproduce the key antigen components of the Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). These reagents will enable scientists worldwide to accelerate development of both early tests for asymptomatic patients and vaccines. The company is widely known its expertise in this field having used its proprietary VirtuE expression system to rapidly develop antigens for other major health threats, including the recent Zika and Dengue outbreaks.

Dr Andy Lane, Commercial Director, The Native Antigen Company, said: “Responding to the World Health Organisation’s R&D Blueprint, we have worked hard to build rapid response manufacturing capabilities to become “first responders” to public health emergencies such as this latest outbreak. These new antigens have been derived specifically from Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), using our highly advanced VirtuE expression system to faithfully reproduce all their complexities. We have already been approached by several groups leading the development of rapid tests and vaccines, and will soon begin shipping through our global supplier network.”

Professor Richard Tedder, Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London, welcomed the breakthrough: “Modern genomics techniques enabled the virus to be sequenced in a matter of days, but actually replicating the antigens with high fidelity is a key step towards developing accurate screening assays and effective vaccines.”

Peter Dines – Chief Operating Officer & Head of Life Sciences & Biosciences, said: “The Native Antigen Company is now one of the world’s leading suppliers of infectious disease reagents and is credited for its rapid response capabilities to overcome the complexities and challenges of international health threats such as the Zika virus and Dengue. This recent breakthrough is testament to the team’s expertise and proprietary systems to accelerate development of antigens to  viruses that pose a significant global risk and there is currently no vaccine and specific treatment available”.

For more information about The Native Antigen Company’s Novel Coronavirus antigens, please visit: