What is AptameX?
AptameX is an innovative rapid test that uses DNA aptamers instead of antigens to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. By using aptamer technology, we have been able to design a friendlier and better customer experience that achieves higher degrees of accuracy than nearly all other rapid tests and at a lower cost to the end consumer.
As we move beyond the acute phase of the pandemic amidst the slow rate of vaccination in developing countries, the combination of ultra-low cost, highly accurate testing and rising availability of therapeutics may present an option to alleviate the effects of Covid-19 for the vast majority of people so that everyone can continue with their daily lives.
How does it work?
Our Covid-19 rapid test is in the form of a user-friendly, saliva-based rapid test. First, a patient rinses their mouth with a standard non-alcoholic dental mouthwash, followed by purified water. The patient then spits into a sample collection tube which is then processed by a lab. The sample is diluted in water and added to a cuvette containing reagent. After 10 minutes, a salt quench is added and after one minute, the sample is ready to be scanned by a standard UV-spectrophotometer.
What sets AptameX apart from other rapid tests is its differentiated chemistry. Aptamers are single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides that bind to specific targets via shape recognition with high affinity and specificity. As aptamers are synthetic, they can be produced at a low cost and in scale.
For more information, see our FAQ.
Not all tests are the same
Many Covid-19 diagnostic tests claim to offer the same results as a PCR test but don’t disclose the CT value where the match/test was obtained. This number is important. The CT value is a measure of the cycle threshold, and with each cycle, the amplification of the viral sample doubles. In Covid-19 testing, it’s often used as a proxy to (or correlates with) viral loads.
The CT steps are not linear. A CT value of 20 versus a CT value of 25 is 25 or 32 times the viral load. Many rapid tests claim a 100% sensitivity and specificity at CT <25, but Covid-19 infection occurs even at higher CT scores. This means that while many rapid antigenic tests claim high accuracy, actual testing at viral loads where one is still infectious is often missed.
This has implications for healthcare policy and practice, especially in developing countries where vaccination rates may be lower, PCR testing may be too expensive and antigenic rapid tests aren’t sensitive enough while being too expensive and invasive for frequent regular use.
Unlike approaches using antibodies, we use DNA aptamers adsorbed onto gold nanoparticles that targets the S2 sub-unit of the S1 protein.
Through differentiated chemistry, we’ve been able to develop a user-friendly, saliva-based test that is sensitive at the important higher CT values, in a format that is friendly, convenient, and with materials that can be produced in quantity with quality at a price point substantially lower than other testing technologies.
What does the future hold?
We believe there are three key parts to our business.
As the world learns to live with Covid-19, a more practical and user-friendly approach to testing is needed and the experience will move from a negative model of test and quarantine to test and grab a therapeutic.
The rapid test is separated into the sampling and software, plus the spectrophotometer. Future iterations may be packaged with other approved spectrophotometers to provide a more convenient solution.
The pandemic has accelerated a shift to new technologies in healthcare delivery from the revolution in vaccines to telehealth. We believe aptamers can revolutionise healthcare through… and are evaluating a range of other diagnostics for other applications.