Partnership to deliver world’s first blood test for cervical cancer

York-based biotech business Aptamer Group has signed an agreement with Timser Group, a pharmaceutical company focused on women’s health, with a deal value of up to £465,000.

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.

Under the terms of the agreement, it will develop Optimer binders to Timser’s patented cervical cancer biomarker panel – a three-protein signature that can be used to detect cervical cancer and precancerous lesions.

The Optimers will power the world’s first blood test for cervical cancer, preventing invasive smear tests and delivering earlier, more sensitive diagnostics.

Timser will receive a licence for the use of the Optimers in its specific test combination, which is patented in 21 countries, including the USA.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer type in women worldwide. Present screening methods rely on invasive and relatively low sensitivity Papanicolaou (PAP) smear tests.

The Optimer enabled Timser’s diagnostic will allow earlier detection at the precancerous lesion stage, which is associated with increased survival.

Previous attempts by Timser to develop antibodies to support the test have failed due to issues with antibody batch variability and supply chains.

Unlike antibodies, Optimer binders are chemically manufactured, giving consistent quality, with the potential to use multiple manufacturers both locally and globally to prevent supply chain issues.

Dr Arron Tolley, chief technical officer of Aptamer Group, said: “We are happy to partner with Timser Group to facilitate their ground-breaking cancer diagnostic with Optimer binders.

“This deal demonstrates the increasing recognition of the Optimer platform to deliver high quality affinity ligands.

“We believe that implementing Optimer technology will allow our partners to overcome previous issues experienced with antibody variability and supply chains, and we look forward to delivering much-needed improvements to cervical cancer tests.” 

Mercedes Gutierrez, chief executive officer of TIMSER Group, added: “We are equally excited about this collaboration with Aptamer Group.

“The potential of Optimer binders to enhance the accuracy and reliability of our cancer diagnostics tests is truly promising.

“By integrating this advanced technology, we are confident in our ability to overcome the limitations of traditional antibodies and improve the outcomes for patients undergoing cervical cancer screening.

“We look forward to a successful partnership and to witnessing the impact that this new technology will have for women across the globe.”

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