Collaboration targets faster detection of waterborne diseases

Biotech business, Aptamer Group, has agreed a partnership with Microsaic Systems to help combat waterborne disease outbreaks.

York-based 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.

It has joined forces with Microsaic Systems – also based in York – to develop a panel of Optimer binders for integration into a water testing system. 

Microsaic Systems has recently purchased the Microtox® water testing system. Earlier work with Aptamer’s COVID-19 Optimer binders and this water testing system showed their successful integration into the pathogen detectors and superior detection performance.

Successful trials have previously taken place using the Optimer-enabled pathogen detectors for COVID-19 within the UK wastewater system.

Following the Microtox® acquisition, Microsaic says it intends to develop the device to a commercial stage using a panel of Optimer binders that specifically detect several major waterborne pathogens.   

Aptamer has signed a heads of terms agreement with Microsaic for the development of a panel of Optimer binders to advance the water testing system.

Aptamer Group will develop a number of new Optimer binders to common waterborne pathogens, such as E.coli, Cholera, Cryptosporidium, Legionella and Norovirus

Following development, the binders will be available for integration into the water pathogen detectors for the rapid and sensitive detection of multiple pathogens of serious concern to public health.

This continuous water testing solution will allow the detection of pathogens in real-time, without delays associated with sending samples for laboratory-based testing.

Dr Arron Tolley, chief technical officer of Aptamer Group, said: “We are pleased to work with Microsaic and support their development of the water testing system.

“Applying the pathogen detector within national water systems could help prevent disease outbreaks by rapidly identifying specific hotspots.

“The robust nature of Optimer binders means that they can work within tests as diverse as lab-based diagnostics and environmental water monitoring.

“Previous work has demonstrated that Optimer binders allow highly sensitive pathogen detection in the wastewater testing system, and we are pleased to build on this with the new team at Microsaic as they advance the platform to commerciality.”

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