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Aptagen, LLC is a biotechnology company offering aptamer (synthetic antibody) products and services as research reagents, diagnostic and biomarker discovery tools, as well as for use in drug discovery and targeted delivery for therapeutics, and bioindustrial applications. 

Aptagen has grown from a one-man operation with the ingenuity and support of interns, graduate students, and post-docs to a tight-knit developing business with clients ranging globally from research academics at top-tier institutions to BigPharma companies. Aptagen has been named as a finalist for the “Top Emerging Business of the Year” by Central Penn Business Journal. Aptamers are an emerging technology that is poised to become the next evolution in diagnostics and drug discovery. Aptagen continues to play a leading role in developing aptamer technology that will assist in the treatment and diagnosis of various diseases. 

Aptagen was formed in 2004. Operations began in 2006.  Aptagen is located in Jacobus, PA, a suburb of York, beautifully surrounded by Lake Redman and Lake Williams and conveniently situated off of Interstate 83. The facility is a forty minute drive from Johns Hopkins University and Hershey Medical Center.
What Is Aptagen? (Color Version) What Is Aptagen? (Color Version)
G. Thomas Caltagirone, Ph.D. President & CEO G. Thomas Caltagirone, Ph.D. President & CEO tom@aptagen.com ext. 500

Dr. Caltagirone 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 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.

Michelle L. Young Admistrative Assistant Michelle L. Young Admistrative Assistant admin@aptagen.com ext. 301

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 Pan, MS Principal Scientist Weihua Pan, MS Principal Scientist

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 M. Liao, BS Lab Director Albert M. Liao, BS Lab Director research@aptagen.com ext. 508

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.

J. Cory Benson, BS Project Manager J. Cory Benson, BS Project Manager project@aptagen.com

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.

How to Apply
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) (DNA Helix Trophy) = Graduated & fulfilled all requirements of the Aptagen Internship Program.

Aptagen Interns

James S. Lyons, Jr
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) James S. Lyons, Jr University of Maryland Ph.D. Candidate, Molecular Medicine 06/16 - 12/16
Adam D. Poff
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Adam D. Poff Gettysburg College Biochem & Molecular Bio 05/16 - 03/17
Erika Gedvilaite
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Erika Gedvilaite Penn State University MS, Biotechnology 05/16 - 12/16
Melanie Hardy
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Melanie Hardy University of Maryland Biochemistry/Math 03/15 - 09/15
J. Cory Benson
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) J. Cory Benson Arcadia University Biology 09/14 - 05/15
Brittany Copenhaver
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Brittany Copenhaver York College of PA Biology 05/14 - 01/15
Jenny Liu
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Jenny Liu John Hopkins University M.S.E. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering 01/14 - 08/14
Robert Nwokonko
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Robert Nwokonko Kutztown University Biology/Pre-medical 07/13 - 04/14
Raphael Williams, BS
Raphael Williams, BS Clarion University Molecular Biology 06/13 - 11/13
Andrew Sutton, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Andrew Sutton, BS York College Biology 04/13 - 11/13
Sara Wing
Sara Wing York College Biology and Chemistry 09/12 - 02/13
Tsai-Chin (Donna) Wu, Ph.D.
Tsai-Chin (Donna) Wu, Ph.D. University of Illinois Bioengineering/Nanotechnology 08/12 - 03/13
Matthew J. Murray, BS
Matthew J. Murray, BS Dickinson College Physics 07/12 - 03/13
Huong Nguyen
Huong Nguyen Penn State Biology 06/12 - 12/12
Jennifer Minteer, BS
Jennifer Minteer, BS Harrisburg University Biotechnology 06/12 - 11/12
Amiee M. Green, BS
Amiee M. Green, BS Kutztown University Biology 05/12 - 10/12
Kelsey Weren
Kelsey Weren Gettysburg College Biology 01/12 - 05/12
Matthew Gladfelter
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Matthew Gladfelter York College Mechanical Engineering 01/12 - 02/13
Albert M. Liao, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Albert M. Liao, BS Johns Hopkins University Biomedical Engineering 01/12 - 10/12
Caitlin Nealon, M.S.
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Caitlin Nealon, M.S. Georgetown University Biotechnology 10/11 - 04/12
Chelsea N. Thompson
Chelsea N. Thompson Millersville University Biology 05/11 - 12/11
Kyle Kentch, B.S.
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Kyle Kentch, B.S. University of Rochester Biomedical Engineering 03/11 - 12/11
Kevin P. Jackson, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Kevin P. Jackson, BS Liberty University Biology with Pre-Med 11/10 - 09/11
Amy R. Smith, BS
Amy R. Smith, BS Temple University Biology/Biochemistry 11/10 - 03/11
Norman Rogers, BS
Norman Rogers, BS Salisbury University Biology 10/10 - 03/11
Christopher Dower, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Christopher Dower, BS Millersville University Biological Sciences 10/10 - 08/11
Dane Kikola
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Dane Kikola Millersville University Biology 09/10 - 08/11
Anne Nixon, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Anne Nixon, BS Penn State University Biology 08/10 - 06/11
Katherine E. Eisner
Katherine E. Eisner Loyola University Biology 06/10 - 09/10
Kristen Sheaffer
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Kristen Sheaffer Millersville University Biology 05/10 - 01/11
Aaron Montani
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Aaron Montani Millersville University Biology 05/10 - 01/11
Dionisi Daoularis
Dionisi Daoularis Drexel University Biomedical Engineering 05/10 - 09/10
Sakkaphan Sawatphanit
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Sakkaphan Sawatphanit Bucknell University Biochemistry 12/09 - 08/10
C. Nicole Groves, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) C. Nicole Groves, BS Towson University Biology 07/09 - 06/10
Marija Debeljak
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Marija Debeljak Millersville University Biology 06/09 - 04/10
Jason Huska
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Jason Huska Millersville University Molecular Biology 05/09 - 02/10
Karen Kofroth
Karen Kofroth Millersville University Molecular Biology 04/09 - 08/09
Ron Ho, BS
Ron Ho, BS York College Biology/Pre-medical 02/09 - 06/09
Jamie S. Harper
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Jamie S. Harper York College Biology 01/09 - 10/09
Nadine Chase, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Nadine Chase, BS Penn State York Science 12/08 - 07/10
Derek J. Jendras
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Derek J. Jendras York College Biology 07/08 - 05/09
Andy L. Ngo, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Andy L. Ngo, BS York College Biology 07/08 - 06/09
Bethany N. Neill
Bethany N. Neill Franklin & Marshall College Biology 05/08 - 11/08
Mitchell B. Crawford
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Mitchell B. Crawford Millersville University Molecular Biology 05/08 - 01/09
Raisa Janella N. Cheng
Raisa Janella N. Cheng York College Biology 05/08 - 11/08
Shelly L. Wesner, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Shelly L. Wesner, BS York College Biology 02/08 - 06/08
Jose L. Pelliccia, BS
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Jose L. Pelliccia, BS Millersville University Biology, Molecular/Biotech 01/07 - 08/08
Elliot Eckard
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Elliot Eckard Penn State York Science 01/07 - 07/10
Vladimir Torres
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Vladimir Torres Millersville University Molecular Biology 01/07 - 01/08
Sameer Shah
Graduated (DNA Helix Trophy) Sameer Shah Millersville University Biology, Molecular/Biotech Option 01/07 - 12/07
Alexis Norris
Alexis Norris Millersville University Molecular Biology 01/06 - 01/07

In The News...

Investors' Circle

What Is Aptagen? (Black & White Version) What Is Aptagen? (Black & White Version)

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.

The Problem

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.

The Solution

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™.

Antibody and Oligo Market Venn Diagram
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.

Advancements at Local Biotech Company

Contact Us

Aptagen, LLC 250 North Main Street Jacobus, PA 17407 Tel: 717-APTAGEN (717-278-2436)

E-mail: mailbox@aptagen.com

Visiting the Aptagen Lab Facility:

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.

Where to Stay when Visiting Aptagen: 

Past Purr-fect Bed and Breakfast
216 North Main Street, Jacobus, PA.  
Phone No. (717) 428-1634
Email 
pstprbnb@blazenet.net 

Website:  www.pastpurrfect.com

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

Website: http://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/york/thvex/hoteldetail