Esco Aster End to End Trace, Test, and Treat Platform

Various countries around the world are working together to control the COVID-19 outbreak and Esco Aster is indeed keeping abreast with the efforts ever since patient zero hit the shores of Singapore last Jan. 23.

Esco Aster has been advocating vaccine and pandemic therapeutics self-sufficiency since 2008. Even as an incubating business under the Esco Life Sciences Group, its parent company, Esco Aster has been approached by a neighboring country to develop their vaccine self-sufficiency that laid foundation to spin out as an independent subsidiary in 2017.

In view of the current pandemic situation, Esco Aster is working together with its collaborators to develop a diagnostic and therapeutic platform against COVID-19. Also, Esco espouses a trace, test, and treat at decentralized community, ports and border level for our end to end level to actively diagnose and isolate to prevent community spread. Through these means, we have developed an end-to-end platform to diagnose and treat the disease.

Our end-to-end platforms for diagnosis and treatment are also provided as mobile container modules with the specific advantage of:

  • Access to remote areas with little/no access to testing centers/hospitals

  • Access to states under lockdown/controlled movement

thus, meet a huge, global unmet need. These tremendously serve to contain the spread of disease by reducing transmission and lowering the burden on centralised hospitals. Our mobile medical diagnostic centers can also be extended to encompass isolation wards and CT diagnostic centres, hence cutting off the burden on central hospitals.

A typical workflow is as follows

It commences with picking up the person under investigation (PUI) for the disease at the point of entry (various ports and borders), isolating him in a wheelchair module to be taken into a dedicated emergency ambulance. He is then transported to an external diagnostic tent equipped with our latest state-of –the-art diagnostic sampling booth. Incidentally, this has been inspired by the Esco sputum collection booths and modified phone booths which were initially used in South Korea. They come equipped with various options ranging from: basic modules which are negative pressure systems to auto pressure hold- testing capabilities at site with inflatable sealed doors and auto bio-decontamination systems utilizing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Together these facilities prevent patient-to-patient transmission and escape of harmful particles to the environment.

We have also made great strides in the diagnostic development. Esco Aster is working closely with collaborators to identify and isolate antibodies from patient sera as a tool to effectively screen and detect COVID-19. These antibodies will be produced rapidly using Esco’s single-use suspension bioreactors. The aim is to provide simple and effective kits (akin to pregnancy tests) that can be used at home and is thus of significant importance in the current context of lockdowns and controls.

In the therapeutics area, Esco Aster once again, is in partnership with collaborators who have screened a panel of over 40 antibodies to check which has the most potential to treat this virus. The scale-up platform of Esco Aster’s single-use suspension bioreactors will be used to produce high-yield, low-cost antibodies. Final processing, formulation and filling will be done at Esco Aster .

In a second arm of therapeutics development against COVID-19, Esco Aster will be joining forces with both local and overseas (USA) collaborators. Briefly, the gene encoding the spike protein will be combined with a previously tested (and highly immunogenic) deltaFLU vaccine and be produced as a chimeric vaccine. As mentioned, the innovators of the deltaFLU vaccine, who also have experience in producing a SARS candidate vaccine, have previously obtained excellent responses in human patients with mucosal Immunoglobulin A (IgA) immunity. This enabled them to proceed to phase 2A, leading up to phase 2B. Hence, the chimeric (COVID-deltaFLU) vaccine is expected to have a successful outcome with superior immunogenicity in pre-clinical and clinical trials with a potential dual protection against influenza and SARS-CoV-2.

We expect that with the support of various governments, we can accelerate the development of COVID-19 therapeutic antibodies and viral vaccines, leading to a 6-month functional independence measure (FIM) with a high chance of clinical efficacy. With our capabilities, in the event of virus mutation, we will be able to rapidly develop an alternative vaccine candidate and scale- up in a timely manner.

In summary, Esco Aster is the first, and till date, the only private Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) company focused and dedicated on vaccine self-sufficiency, turnkey containers, and mobile laboratory solutions within ASEAN region. We will continue to work to accelerate our development and to help Singapore and our neighboring countries in their biosafety, biosecurity, and bio- containment of COVID-19.

In keeping with our vision, we are continuously looking to expand* our bioprocess scientists’ team in Singapore and look forward to working closely with our existing and potential collaborators as a means of achieving all our aforementioned objectives. Collectively, we will serve to enhance the national and regional security of the health sector.

About Esco Aster

Esco Aster is a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) spun out as an independent subsidiary in 2017 from the Esco Group of companies founded in 1978. Process Development for clients was previously provided within the group with our partners as early as 2002.

Esco Aster is focused on offering vaccine-, bio- cell- and gene-therapy development manufacturing services using primarily its proprietary Adherent Tide Motion Platform supplemented by single-use suspension and fermentation, downstream bioprocessing, and custom bioengineering equipment for client-specific therapeutics. Within the chem- biopolymer- cosmetic, personal care, cosmeceutical- segments, we excel in converting batch processes into continuous flow chemistry, closed aseptic processing within isolators, along with a variety of skin safety/efficacy testing services.

*Due to current controlled movement only Singaporeans and PR applicants who are in Singapore will be considered.