Innovative synthetic antibody (Aptamer) test for SARS Cov-2 in development at Aptamer Group

Published on 30/03/2020
Innovative synthetic antibody (Aptamer) test for SARS Cov-2 in development at Aptamer Group York based biotech; Aptamer Group have started a project to develop a synthetic antibody (aptamer) binder selective for the spike protein in SARS Cov-2. The company has developed a proof-of-concept device ready to scale up in 6-8 weeks and are looking for partners to work with on this.

The innovative test aims to work the SARS Cov2 spike  protein aptamer into a lateral flow point-of-care test virus antigen detection in saliva samples in 10 minutes. This test would omit the need for lab-based PCR testing for the  virus antigen, massively scaling up the number of SARS Cov-2 virus tests that can be conducted in a community setting.

Currently, viral infection is a serious threat for human beings. With over 737,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide with 35,019 deaths as of 30th March 2020 as per WHO, accurate and early detection of such viruses is highly crucial for clinical diagnosis and therapeutics. Currently there are few specific antiviral strategies, but several potent candidates of antivirals agents are under urgent investigation. Although antibody-based detection methods and drugs are widely used in clinics, their popularity is hindered by high cost, antibody instability and the limitation of target types.

Aptamer-based assay for virus detection have shown to improve these drawbacks and have proven to be of great potential as a feasible tool in virus detection and therapeutics due to their properties such as:
  • Easy to synthesize and easy to screen
  • Stable in different environmental conditions
  • Selected aptamers are capable of adapting unique tertiary structures
  • Recognize target molecules with high affinity and specificity
  • Can be modified chemically at defined positions and linked stably to solid surfaces
  • Can be reproducibly obtained in large quantities and at a low cost

Thus, aptamers have been considered as potentially useful diagnostic agents and are promising for two detecting viruses and treating viral infections. Taking advantage of the highly specific aptamers, independent research groups have demonstrated the application of aptamers in detection and therapeutics of SARS CoV.

Overall, aptamers could provide a strong tool for the expansion of new diagnostic and therapeutic factors in virus infections with negligible side effects as compared to traditional antibodies. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, this disease has spread rapidly around the globe. The poor clinical outcome proves the high severity of the disease.

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