A YORK biotechnology company developing a Covid-19 rapid results test has been praised for its driving role in seeking solutions to the crisis.

Aptamer Group welcomed Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, to its York Science Park premises to show its progress in developing a Covid-19 test that will generate results within seconds.

The business also recently demonstrated the strength of the sector in York with the appointment of six new scientists, including molecular biologist, Dr. Stephen Bentley.

York Press:

Ms Maskell praised the work being carried out by the business which includes collaborations with major diagnostic and healthcare companies to produce the Covid-19 point-of-care test.

It is also working in parallel on many important diagnostic and therapeutic targets to support its customers and collaborators, including Cancer Research UK and AstraZenica to develop targeted drug delivery for kidney disease.

Arron Tolley, chief executive of Aptamer Group, said: “We have a number of different projects going on at the moment at Aptamer Group.

"As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re working with Cytiva and PerkinElmer to develop a lateral flow test, which is a test similar to a pregnancy test kit that will be a saliva-based test for the detection of Covid.

“There is also some significant work on targeted drug therapy being carried out, and I think Rachael found this area of development equally fascinating.”

Ms Maskell said: “I had an incredible visit to Aptamer Group. I’ve looked around the labs and had a real walk through the chemical processes involved to develop some of the future generation of drugs, but also the future generation of tests, which is particularly relevant at this time as we fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s really exciting for the city of York, but also for the company.

"Aptamer Group is really in the driving seat of being able to find the solutions to what is an international crisis.

"I wish the company every success and hope that its fantastic work brings the national recognition it deserves.”

The new scientists who have joined Aptamer Group are University of York graduates Claire Jones and Lauren Webster; Olivia Foody, who has spent two years as a research technician at The Jack Birch Unit for Molecular Carcinogenesis at the University of York;along with Callum Robson, Dr. Matthew Thompson, Lauren Webster and Dr. Stephen Bentley.

Dr. Tolley said: “I am delighted that we have not only been able to attract Stephen to work in the region, but retained the talent of five young scientists in the north of England.

“Their diverse knowledge and skills will be of great benefit as we work to deliver aptamer-based solutions for a wide variety of pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostic customers, as well as academic and research institutions across the world.”

Dr Bentley gained a B.Sc. (Hons.) with distinction in Biotechnology, followed by a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Dr. Bentley then carried out postdoctoral research with Professor Rusian Aphasizhev at Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. He has co-authored a number of scientific papers in his career to date.