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Vela Diagnostics Inks Japan Distribution Agreement for HIV-1 Drug Resistance Tests

NEW YORK – Vela Diagnostics said Monday that Japanese clinical testing company SRL will distribute Vela's HIV-1 drug resistance mutation assay kit in Japan.

Under the deal, Singapore-based Vela will use SRL's distribution network and market experience to sell its Sentosa SQ HIV-1 Genotyping Assay Kit to healthcare and diagnostics institutions in Japan. Vela officials said the recent deal builds on a research collaboration agreement signed with SRL in June and that SRL has begun feasibility studies for use of the assay kit.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The kit is used to detect genomic mutations and aid the treatment and monitoring of HIV-1 infection. It is designed for use on Vela's automated Sentosa instrument, which combines NGS and PCR capabilities and is used for infectious disease and oncology applications. Vela secured FDA marketing authorization for the test in 2019.

SRL has more than 80 business sites in Japan and specializes in complex testing services for diseases, treatment planning, post-treatment monitoring, and health checkups. Vela CEO Sam Dajani said in a statement that the Japanese market offers "tremendous opportunities."

"We envision Japan joining the global network of HIV providers utilizing Vela Diagnostics' NGS assay kits spanning North and South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Australia," he said.

Tony Zhang, head of R&D at Vela, added that the Sentosa SQ HIV-1 Genotyping Assay Kit has lower hands-on and turnaround times than competitors' kits and it combines the efficiency of NGS-based techniques with high sensitivity to mutations in three key drug targets.

"It provides critical insights into the virus's drug-resistance profile, potentially revolutionizing HIV testing in Japan," he said.

Vela also inked in July an agreement with Eurobio Scientific to distribute Vela's products in the UK and Europe.