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News Update

Winter  2008

In This Issue
- KIZ Grant Awarded -
- Aptagen & ALS TDI Sign Agreement -
- Aptagen Expands Internationally -
- Internships Made Possible by KIZ -



Aptagen & Millersville University Win

KIZ Grant


The Keystone Innovation Zone grant (KIZ) is funded by Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development. KIZ is offered to community/university partnerships for research and development of new technologies.


Aptagen and Millersville   University are developing novel nanopackaging technology for delivery of chemotherapy drugs for treatment of lung cancer. Tom Caltagirone, Ph.D.,   president and CEO of Aptagen, LLC and Jeremiah K. N. Mbindyo, Ph.D., Associate Professor for the Department of Chemistry at Millersville  University, are the lead investigators in this project.


Aptagen has engineered an

aptamer™, a short sequence of RNA that binds specifically to lung tissue. Dr. Mbindyo has developed a technique for attaching small molecules on biodegradable nanoparticles. The project combines the two technologies. The goal is to attach the aptamer™ on nanoparticles containing doxorubicin for delivery into lung tissue. These efforts are currently ongoing.

"Quick Bits"

Patent and Trademark Pending                       

Aptagen has applied for a U.S. Patent and Trademark for its supramolecular molecule with antibody-like specificity and drug-like chemical properties called aptabody™.

Joining Forces in the Community   
In 2007, Aptagen joined two Pennsylvania biotechnology organizations, both dedicated to the biosciences community in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Bio is a continuum of bioscience companies whose mission is to be the catalyst to ensure Pennsylvania is a global leader in bioscience technology, pharmaceutical, research and financial strengths.
-  Capital Area Partnership is comprised of biotech firms, government agencies, industry, local community colleges, and area school districts. Their primary goal is to deliver a quality education to high school and college students who are considering a career in science. The organization prepares students to enter the biotech workforce, thereby decreasing the time companies need to train employees and ensuring biotech firms have access to qualified workers.

Reaching Out to Others


Dr. Tom Caltagirone and Melissa Rohall attended Biotech 2007 held in Philadelphia. Hosted by BioNJ and Pennsylvania Bio, the symposium attracts representatives of the biotech industry, medical device and diagnostic companies, global pharmaceutical companies, venture capitalists, university researchers, government officials and support organizations. The event is focused on the biosciences industry in the Mid-Atlantic region and is designed to facilitate networking opportunities. "This event was invaluable for us. As a relatively new company, we were able to meet and network with many others with like interests from our region. We discussed strategies to form partnerships and seek alternative funding opportunities," said Caltagirone. "We are looking forward to Biotech 2008."  

About Aptagen 

Aptagen, LLC is a biotechnology company with a rapid fast-track approach to drug discovery, drug targeting, and pre-clinical development. Our platform technology (patent pending) is a short-cut approach to develop promising drug candidates that are deliverable to a variety of disease targets. Learn more about our unique process by viewing our short video.

Quick Links

This is the first e-newsletter published by Aptagen, LLC. Since the company's inception two years ago, many exciting things have happened and many more are on the horizon. Aptagen is moving forward swiftly with new partnership agreements, new staff and interns, international sales efforts and so much more. We will be sending you Aptagen's News Update quarterly to keep you abreast of the latest and most important Aptagen achievements.


If you would prefer to receive a hardcopy newsletter instead of, or in addition to, the E-News Update, let us know by clicking on the email link below. Please include your name, your company name, mailing address, and your desired form of communication. [email protected]


Aptagen and ALS-TDI Sign

Aptabody™ Discovery Agreement

ALS Logo

ALS-TDI and Aptagen, LLC have entered into a research and development agreement that will expedite drug development for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The institute will apply the aptabody™ technology in investigating the potential for treating ALS.

Aptagen's proprietary aptabody™ technology will be used to develop synthetic "molecular bullets" for drug delivery to diseased cells. This unique process eliminates the "test tube" phase of drug discovery, expediting the development of new drugs and bringing it one step closer to human clinical trials. "Traditional drug discovery strategies against devastating diseases like ALS have been slow to reach the clinic," said Aptagen president and CEO, Tom Caltagirone, Ph.D. "We are optimistic about ALS- TDI's initiative to aggressively explore aptabody™ technology as a viable solution for rapidly developing successful drug candidates for ALS."


ALS Therapy Development Institute based in Cambridge, Mass, runs the world's largest research and development program focused exclusively on ALS. Steven Perrin, Ph.D, chief scientific officer at ALS-TDI said, "The use of aptabody™ conjugates to target a therapeutic to a specific cell type is a powerful tool that removes some of the limitations of drug delivery that utilize engineered viruses." Dr. Perrin is hopeful that aptabody™ drug delivery may reduce some of the inefficient trial and error of developing small molecules that must cross the blood brain barrier to reach their respective targets in the central nervous system. To find out more about ALS-TDI, visit their Web site at www.ALS.net.

Expanding into International MarketsJapan


Aptagen is committed to expanding into international markets in 2008. Eriko Augustus, a native of Japan, was recently hired to target biotech and pharmaceutical companies in Japan for partnering using Aptagen's technology. Eriko is accredited by the Institute for Independent Business and has an MSc degree (Master of Science in Management) from Sloan Masters Program at the LondonBusinessSchool and a BA in English Linguistics from Kokkyo University, Saitama, Japan. 


Ms. Augustus stated, "We have just begun our efforts in Japan, but we have received favorable reponses from a few. I feel very encouraged about the possibilities."


Aptagen Offers Interns

Real Life Lab Experience


Three student interns have the opportunity to work at Aptagen. "It is a great benefit to have interns in the lab. They gain a unique experience working in a biotech company, learn diferent techniques, and learn how to troubleshoot in science.  We appreciate their hard work and enthusiasm," said Tom Caltagirone, Ph.D., president and CEO of Aptagen. 


jpellicJose Pelliccia - Jose is a senior at Millersville University this year, majoring in Molecular Biology. He loves the field of study he has chosen and plans to work in the lab at Aptagen for a few more years before heading back to school for a Masters degree or possibly even a  medical degree. Jose has worked at Aptagen for the past two years focusing on histology and molecular work. He is very enthusiastic about his work and says, "The environment at Aptagen is great. I really enjoy the work and the people."


ElliotElliot Eckard -  In late summer of 2005, and as a junior at Dallastown High School, Elliot began working and training at Aptagen. Elliot is a Senior in high school now and plays a vital role at Aptagen managing the laboratory mice and their cages, harvesting tissues for sectioning, and occasionally he handles a tail vain injection. Elliot says, "I am learning new procedures and theories each day I come in. I enjoy the atmosphere and type of work I am involved in, and hope to continue as long as possible."

ShellyShelly Wesner - Shelly is a senior at York College majoring in Biology. She recently began her internship at Aptagen and is responsible for conducting a variety of experiments and research projects. "It is really great to be able to put to use all the knowledge and lab procedures that I've learned in school. This experience should help me as I seek a job after graduation." Shelly hopes to follow a career in laboratory research.

Internships Made Possible by KIZ Grants

Keystone Innovation Zones makes it possible for Aptagen and many other companies to hire interns. Created by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the program is designed to improve and encourage Pennsylvania's research and development efforts, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship programs. Aeman Bashir of the York County Economic Development Corporation is the regional KIZ coordinator. She says of the program, "Internship experiences can expose students to a wealth of new ideas, techniques, and applications that will greatly enhance their knowledge, making their classroom experience more meaningful. Internships are invaluable!"

Melissa Rohal Hired

for New Business Development 

"Mel is a fabulous addition to the Aptagen team," says Caltagirone, president and CEO. "She has the background and determination we need to help us with our business development efforts."


Melissa, or Mel, as she is known to coworkers, holds an BA in biology and an MS in bioinformatics. She also has done graduate work in human genetics and pathology.  In addition, with five years experience conducting pathology lab assays and oncology research studies with the University of Maryland and NCI, it is second nature for her to speak with biotech and pharmaceutical companies about the benefits Aptagen's unique aptabody™ technology offers.


"My current focus is on the mid-Atlantic companies in need of drug discovery technology or diagnostic tools," says Mel. "I have found that members of the biotech field are intrigued and encouraged by the versatility and depth of specificity offered by the aptabodies™. It is exciting to know that Aptagen technology has the potential to change so many medical conditions."

Aptagen, LLC