Aptamer, York life sciences firm, in new deal

York-based life sciences firm Aptamer Group plc announced that it has entered into a material agreement with a biotechnology company developing genetic medicines — a move that will bring £553,000 in development fees to the York company.

Aptamer joined the stock market in December 2021 at around £1.17 per share and rose to about £1.48 to give the firm a stock market capitalisation of roughly £100 million — but the stock has since fallen about 99% to around 1.2p to give the company a stock market value of only £5.6 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Aptamer Group will use its proprietary platform to discover Optimer binders to enable the specific targeting of genetic medicines to specific cell types,” said Aptamer.

“Aptamer Group will receive up to £553,000 in development fees for discovering and developing the Optimer binders.

“Work is expected to commence shortly subject to receiving target materials from the customer and is expected to be completed within the current financial year.

Optimer binders are a novel class of molecules for selectively targeting new biomarkers and tissues. Optimers are fully synthetic oligonucleotide molecules that offer a controlled development process, delivering high affinity and highly selective binders, which makes them attractive candidate molecules for drug delivery.

“The smaller size of Optimers allows for improved tissue penetration, enabling effective therapeutic delivery, while the ability to control Optimer conjugation to therapeutic payloads allows precision in therapeutic development and dosing of payloads.”

Dr Arron Tolley, Chief Technical Officer of Aptamer Group, said: “This project builds on the work we have been doing in drug delivery since being refunded and supports the need for new delivery modalities within the genetic medicines space.

“Targeting oligonucleotide therapeutics beyond hepatocytes remains a challenge across the industry; we believe the properties of Optimers make them suitable for developing precision-guided therapies and that Optimer-targeted therapies may represent the next stage in targeted drug delivery.”