AuramerBio makes diagnosis easier, faster and smarter

AuramerBio is a medical diagnostics company set to revolutionise the way medical professionals diagnose and monitor the health of their patients.

AuramerBio group

The company is developing a portfolio of sensing technologies that can be used in a range of medical and environmental contexts, but which use aptamers rather than antibodies.

Diagnostic tests often rely on antibodies, which are used as probes to detect a targeted molecule. The common pregnancy test, for example, detects pregnancy when an antibody indicator binds to a glycoprotein (hCG), found in urine.

AuramerBio is evidence of the benefits of cross-disciplinary research, having come out a collaboration between Professor Ken McNatty and Dr Shalen Kumar from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Biological Sciences, Dr Justin Hodgkiss’ team at the University's School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and Professor Jadranka TravasSejdic’s team at the University of Auckland.

The research combined biology, in the design of synthetic antibodies, with engineering and surface chemistry, in the development of the electrochemical sensing device.

“Aptamers really captured my imagination from when I first learnt about them, but a few chance meetings at the right time gave me the opportunity to actually pursue that interest,” says Dr Hodgkiss, who is senior lecturer in Chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington.

“First, finding that a world-leading aptamer programme was already happening just down the corridor in Ken and Shalen’s lab. And second, when prospective PhD student, Omar Alsager, approached me about research into biosensor technology. Once Omar and Shalen got together, things moved very quickly.”

Dr Kumar, co-founder of AuramerBio and the company’s chief technical officer, says, “It’s great to be able to show that we can do amazing research in New Zealand that you don’t need to relocate offshore to create world-wide impact and build a successful career in science.”