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SARS-CoV-2 Optimers: Rapid reagent development and validation


SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in November 2019 in Wuhan, China. Spreading quickly across the globe, COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS_CoV-2, was announced as a pandemic just four months later, in March 2020. Working at unprecedented pace and scale, scientists worldwide have collaborated to develop diagnostics to curb the spread of the disease, therapeutics to help treat COVID-19 patients, and vaccines to prevent infection. At Aptamer Group, we have developed SARS-CoV-2 specific Optimers that show high affinity and selectivity for the virus proteins in human saliva matrix and are functional across various platforms for accurate and reliable detection and analysis of SARS-CoV-2.

To find out more, download our application note ‘Rapid identification and development of SARS-CoV-2 selective Optimers’.

Rapid reagent development – target to binder in 17 days

Covid-19 Aptamers: Rapid Development

Putting our rapid reagent selection processes to the test, we were able to develop Optimers to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in just 17 days. We have developed a pair of Optimers specific to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and an Optimer specific to the virus’s nucleocapsid protein.

From receipt of the viral target proteins to the identification of SARS-CoV-2 aptamers and further development to optimise the binding characteristics and improve manufacturability took less than a month. Our processes offer the most rapid reagent development in the sector, allowing us to respond to events such as emerging disease outbreaks with the rapid development of highly specific SARS-CoV-2 affinity reagents.

SARS-CoV-2 Optimers outperform commercial antibodies and aptamers

The selected Optimers to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and nucleocapsid protein showed excellent binding characteristics, with affinity in the low nanomolar range and as low as 15 pM for the nucleocapsid Optimer. This affinity is superior to a competitor aptamer. Additionally, the Optimers showed more flexibility in the analysis of SARS-CoV-2 proteins, being able to bind in both the open and closed positions of the spike protein. Assessment of the target specificity of the SARS-CoV-2 Optimers was performed against homologous coronaviruses showing highly specific binding to the SARS-CoV-2 target proteins with no observed cross-reactivity. These combined binding characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 Optimers ensure accurate detection and analysis of the virus.

Flexible and reproducible analysis with SARS-CoV-2 Optimers

All our Optimers are fully validated and optimised for performance in their end-use application. However, we understand that sometimes, as with our SARS-CoV-2 binders, the ultimate end-use needs to be flexible, making Optimer reagents compatible across platforms for use throughout your development pipeline. To demonstrate this flexibility in the SARS-CoV-2 Optimers, the reagents were analysed by biosensors (using Fortebio’s Octet system), and ELISA and for binding to both SARS-CoV-2 spike protein trimer and the protein subunits, showing consistent performance in all methods.

Batch consistency and cost-of-manufacture are major issues in the production of biologics, often limiting development. We have demonstrated the reproducibility in two different batches of SARS-CoV-2 Optimers produced by two different manufacturers, with both batches showing highly reproducible target binding. Optimers are produced by synthetic chemical processes, resulting in minimal variation, and are engineered to deliver the smallest size affinity reagent for cost-effective manufacture.

We are working with global partners to develop solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic using our SARS-CoV-2 Optimers. Find out more about their development and validation in our application note, or to understand how we can bring the benefits of Optimer technology to your discovery and development programmes, get in touch.

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