York-based Aptamer Group is working with Microsaic Systems to help combat waterborne disease outbreaks.

The biotech firm is using its binders, which can work as an alternative to antibodies, creating new ways in therapeutics, diagnostics, and research applications.

The two firms aim to use Aptamer binder technology to test water.

Microsaic Systems recently bought the Microtox® water testing system. Earlier work with Aptamer’s COVID-19 Optimer binders showed this system could rapidly detect diseases in water.


Successful trials have previously taken place using the Optimer-enabled pathogen detectors for COVID-19 within the UK wastewater system.

After the Microtox® purchase, Microsaic says it aims to develop the device to a commercial stage using a panel of Optimer binders that specifically detect several major waterborne pathogens.

Aptamer has signed an agreement with Microsaic to develop Optimer binders to advance the water testing system. This will test for common waterborne pathogens, such as E.coli, Cholera, Cryptosporidium, Legionella and Norovirus.

After development, the binders will be available for integration into the water pathogen detectors for the rapid and sensitive detection of multiple pathogens of serious concern to public health.

This continuous water testing solution will allow pathogens to be detected in real time, without delays associated with sending samples for laboratory-based testing.

Aptamer Group CTO Dr Arron Tolley said: “We are pleased to work with Microsaic and support their development of the water testing system.“Applying the pathogen detector within national water systems could help prevent disease outbreaks by rapidly identifying specific hotspots.

“The robust nature of Optimer binders means that they can work within tests as diverse as lab-based diagnostics and environmental water monitoring.

“Previous work has demonstrated that Optimer binders allow highly sensitive pathogen detection in the wastewater testing system, and we are pleased to build on this with the new team at Microsaic as they advance the platform to commerciality.”