Biotech firm’s product could offer new hope in fight against liver disease

York-based Aptamer Group says its Optimer binder against cells associated with fibrotic liver disease has been shipped to a top 15 pharmaceutical company.

Aptamer develops custom affinity binders through its proprietary Optimer® platform, which can serve as an alternative to antibodies and enable new approaches in therapeutics, diagnostics, and research applications.

Its Optimer delivery vehicle, which was developed to selectively target cells linked to fibrotic liver disease, will now be evaluated by the major pharmaceutical firm for precision liver medicine.

Research at Aptamer Group combining the Optimer with a model gene therapy payload has shown the Optimer enables selective delivery of the gene therapy specifically to fibrotic human liver cells in laboratory tests, with no interaction with other liver cell types.

This allows the gene therapy to be effective in target fibrotic liver disease cells, with no effect in the non-target liver cells.

Targeted delivery to specific cell populations is showing increasing use across the pharmaceutical sector, as it has potential for increased efficacy and reduced side effects from medications.

Estimates suggest that globally, two million lives are lost annually to liver disease, and 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic liver disease.

Dr Arron Tolley, chief technical officer of Aptamer Group, said: “We are happy to be able to supply our Optimer binders to our pharma partner for evaluation.

“Their positive feedback on our in-house data suggests the Optimer binders could outperform the alternative molecules they are currently testing.

“For gene therapy, enabling targeted delivery of functional medicines to new tissues remains a major translational challenge preventing the full recognition of gene therapies potential.

“Our in-house studies suggest we have overcome these issues in developing these Optimer binders and could offer new hope for precision medicines for liver disease, a patient group that is hugely underserved with limited treatment options.

“I look forward to supporting our partners in their use of Optimer delivery vehicles and updating the market as this partnership progresses.”

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