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Ares Genetics Collaborates With BGI on Coronavirus Testing in Europe

NEW YORK – Ares Genetics, a Curetis Group company, will collaborate with BGI Group to make molecular tests for coronavirus 2019-nCoV available in Europe.

Ares will launch a next-generation sequencing testing service for the virus using BGI reagents. The firm will also collaborate, along with Curetis and BGI, in the distribution of NGS and PCR testing kits.

BGI was the first to sequence the genome of the 2019-nCoV, and the firm developed a real-time fluorescence PCR kit for detecting 2019-nCoV that provides results in a few hours. The kit has obtained approval from China's National Medical Products Administration, and BGI has reportedly provided about 50,000 test kits to hospitals and disease control centers in China.

A sequencing platform from BGI subsidiary MGI, called DNBSEQ-T7, has also passed the emergency approval procedure of the National Medical Products Administration, becoming the first officially approved testing product in China for surveillance, discovery, and identification of unknown infectious diseases.

BGI and MGI will now work with their long-term strategic partner Ares Genetics in Europe to make the 2019-nCoV testing portfolio available to public health institutions and hospitals for outbreak monitoring, infection control, and epidemiology, according to a statement.

Ares Genetics expects to provide next-generation sequencing services for 2019-nCoV out of its NGS laboratory in Vienna, Austria. The service will be used for infection control and tracking of pathogen evolution from February 2020 onwards using MGI's DNBSEQ sequencing platform.

Ares Genetics and the Curetis Group will also support BGI Group in the distribution of its PCR and NGS reagent kits to molecular testing laboratories in Europe, with reagent kits initially being marketed for research use only prior to regulatory approval. 

"The ability to rapidly test for 2019-nCoV with PCR as well as track its evolution by next-generation sequencing is key to contain this global outbreak," said Andreas Posch, managing director and CEO of Ares Genetics. 

Posch added that while Ares Genetics specializes in molecular detection of bacterial pathogens and antibiotic susceptibility prediction, the firm's specialized molecular service laboratory can make 2019-nCoV testing broadly available in Europe, and that viruses will be added to the scope of its Universal Pathogenome Assay, ARESupa, in the future in order to "significantly augment its utility as an aid in the differential diagnosis of viral and bacterial infections." 

Curetis recently merged its business with OpGen, and the combined firms are now based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. European operations are run from Holzgerlingen, Germany, with Ares Genetics maintaining bioinformatics and next-generation sequencing service laboratory operations in Vienna, Austria.