Dr. Caltagirone is the President & CEO of Aptagen, LLC and has over 25 years of research and business experience in start-ups. A native of York, PA, he began his studies at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry followed by a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Drexel University. He completed his thesis on “Proton-Sensitive Ribozyme Switches with Molecular Memory” at Yale University. His training and technical skills are primarily in the area of Molecular Biology with several patents and publications under his name.
Michelle is originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She earned her Associates Degree from Consolidated School of Business. Before coming to Aptagen, she was a judicial secretary. She has over 10 years’ experience in an office setting.
Weihua began basic studies at Nankai University in China, and continued advanced training at Nankai, Harbin Medical University (China) and IPK (Germany). In US, he has focused on R&D of Aptamer and Anti-Sense strategies for more than 25 years.
Albert Liao earned his bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University in the field of Biomedical Engineering. He then participated in the internship program and graduated to assume the Lab Director position. In his time at Aptagen, Albert contributed to many aspects of the lab, including Aptamer R&D and Oligonucleotide Synthesis.
Cory Benson earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Arcadia University. After graduating from Aptagen’s internship program in May 2015, he assumed the position of Project Manager. His current responsibilities include carrying out SELEX experiments, improving upon Aptagen’s established protocols, and training interns.
Aptagen's Executive Summary
Aptagen is a biotechnology company offering aptamer products and services as reagents, diagnostic and biomarker discovery tools, as well as for use in drug discovery, targeted delivery for therapeutics, and bioindustrial applications.
Aptagen develops and manufactures aptamers (ligands of RNA, DNA, and peptide oligonucleotides that bind to a variety of target antigens). Aptamers are sometimes referred to as “chemical antibodies or DNA antibodies.” Aptazymes are aptamers with enzymatic activity. A subclass of aptazymes called molecular switches is analogous to molecular beacons for fluorescent detection of analytes in test samples. Examples include allosteric ribozymes, also known as riboswitches.
Aptagen’s business plan is a dual approach to replacing the current technology being utilized. The retail arm of Aptagen provides customers with an industry first “Apta-Index™” that offers a low-cost service for synthesizing known aptamers (synthetic antibodies) for research and development purposes. The R&D arm of Aptagen has a primary objective to provide a customized service for drug development and therapeutic applications through long-term, large dollar contracts.
Current technology is outdated. Antibodies were discovered in the 1890’s and have been the primary biotechnology research vehicle for the last one hundred and ten years. The antibody method involves multiple trial and error experiments that result in extremely high development cost and is only 20% successful on average. Aptamers (synthetic antibodies) were developed in the 1990’s and have been increasingly gaining in popularity and availability over the last ten years. The lower manufacturing costs and the near-endless applicability is solidifying aptamers (synthetic antibodies) as the next evolution of drug discovery and diagnostics.
An aptamer catalog of products had not existed anywhere. There are many sources for commercially available antibodies, but until recently, there was not an aptamer (oligo antibody) equivalent. Aptagen has committed to change this situation by offering aptamers (synthetic antibodies) as an alternative to the conventional antibody. In the past, Aptagen had only offered custom services through long-term projects to develop highly customized aptamers (synthetic antibodies); however, recently Aptagen has revolutionized the industry by creating a resource of known (already developed) aptamers in an easy to use catalog called the Apta-Index™.
|Using the current antibody method; for every drug that makes it to market, hundreds of promising candidates that worked in-vitro (on the lab bench) fail during animal ADMET studies (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity). From lab bench to pharmacy shelves it takes from seven to fifteen years and costs $4B with an average failure rate of 80%. Half of this time and approximately 70% of all associated biopharmaceutical R&D costs are spent on in-vitro development.|
Because aptamers (synthetic antibodies) are an in-vivo (directly tested in the animal model) approach, they avoid the majority of the bench testing, saving several years and approximately 35% of the R&D cost. The unique chemistry of aptamers, unlike other forms of drugs currently used, permits the natural selection of drug candidates in whole animal models, bypassing the test tube entirely. By using an animal model with the disease state of interest, Aptagen need not possess specific knowledge of the pathology or disease condition in question. As an added benefit, because this approach reduces the false starts, there are actually fewer animals needed for drug evaluation.
Aptagen, LLC 250 North Main Street Jacobus, PA 17407 Tel: 717-APTAGEN (717-278-2436)
Lancaster Train Station (ETA 45 minutes): From PA 72 North take US 30 West. Follow US 30 West, turn left onto North Hills Road, then right onto East Market Street. Merge onto I-83 South via the ramp to Baltimore. Follow I-83 South to Exit 14 (PA-182 West). Turn left onto South George Street and continue onto North Main Street. Aptagen is on the right.
Please keep in
mind, BWI (Baltimore) airport is closer than Philadelphia.
Also, you would need to rent a car since there is no public transportation available in the area.
BWI Airport (ETA 1.15 hours): From I-195 West follow to Exit 2A (Maryland 295 North/Balt/Wash Pkwy) toward Baltimore. Merge onto MD-295 North. Turn right onto West Pratt Street then left onto South Gay Street. Take I-83 North ramp on left, keep right on I-83 North following the signs for I-695 East/Towson/York Pa. Take slight right following I-83 North (look for signs for Timonium/York Pa). Take Loganville Exit. Merge onto Lake Road/North Street. Turn right onto Susquehanna Trail South. Continue onto South Main Street. Aptagen is on the left.
Past Purr-fect Bed and Breakfast
216 North Main Street, Jacobus, PA.
Phone No. (717) 428-1634
Website: When scheduling your stay, be sure to mention that you are visiting Aptagen and would like our corporate rate. Your hosts, John and Robin Trevaskis will be more than glad to help you schedule your stay with them.
Holiday Inn Express
140 Leader Heights Road, York, PA
Phone No. (717) 741-1000