OpTech maintains full ownership of two biotechnology companies: OTC Biotechnologies, LLC and Pronucleotein Biotechnologies, Inc.
OTC Biotech was formed to commercialize DNA aptamers and related products developed by OpTech in 2003 and primarily funded by Federal Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contracts (totaling greater than $9M). Aptamers are similar in function to antibodies in that they bind tightly and specifically to target molecules or cells (including bacteria, parasites and cancer cells) against which they have been developed. However, aptamers are easier, faster, and less expensive to develop than antibodies and demonstrate greater reproducibility from batch to batch than antibodies, because they do not require host animals or cells for production.
OTC Biotech has obtained 9 US and/or World aptamer-related patents to date and published a great deal of its aptamer research on topics ranging from ultrasensitive and rapid diagnostic assays using aptamers to therapeutic uses of aptamer conjugates to relieve pain or kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, viruses, parasites and cancer cells.
OTC Biotech sells its aptamers worldwide at www.OTCBiotech.com via an on demand model in which OTC Biotech holds no inventory and undercuts the price of comparable antibodies.
OpTech/OTC Biotech won a prestigious national Small Business Administration (SBA) Tibbetts Award in 2011 for excellence in SBIR-funded R&D and commercialization.
Pronucleotein has an exclusive license from OpTech/OTC Biotech for use of its aptamers in food safety testing. Pronucleotein has developed a handheld fluorescence sensor (FLASH reader) used for rapid (~ 30 minutes) ultrasensitive (5 – 100 bacteria per ml) detection of several foodborne pathogens in or on foods and food processing surfaces.
Pronucleotein received a $1M investment from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) in 2009. The speed, portability and ultrasensitive on site, yet highly specific detection capabilities of Pronucleotein’s FLASH reader and associated aptamer-based fluorescence assays led to Pronucleotein winning Second Place ($120,000 in prize money) versus 48 other academic and industrial competitors in the FDA’s 2014 Food Safety Testing Technology Challenge (http://www.foodsafetychallenge.com/news/).
OpTech/Pronucleotein are currently working on a second product line involving aptamer-quantum dot-modified test strips for more sensitive detection of foodborne pathogens on site without the need for a reader device under a USDA Phase 2 SBIR contract.