Aptamers are continuing to gain traction in biomedical research as promising therapeutic agents. Used in concert with other therapeutic molecules and modalities, the role of aptamers is expected to drive intense research interest in the future, especially as it relates to cancer therapy, diagnostics, nanomedicine and other therapeutic applications.
The distinct advantages of aptamers over protein therapies are abundant: size, synthetic accessibility and modification into secondary and tertiary structures—enabling their binding to a wide range of targets. The artificial, single-stranded nucleic acid oligonucleotides can bind to molecular targets such as amino acids, drugs, proteins or even entire cells with high affinity and specificity.
Novel forms of targeted cancer therapy are in high demand. Conventional anticancer therapies, such as chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, rely too heavily on delivery of therapeutic drugs to tumors—often at the expense of normal tissues.
Aptamers—as chemical antibodies that bind to targets with high affinity and specificity—can be used in conjunction with diagnostic agents or chemotherapeutic agents to more effectively reach the target area of interest. The ability to enhance both cancer diagnosis and treatment efficacy is leading to new developments in cancer therapeutics and diagnostics.
Isolation of aptamers specific to the target of interest can be achieved via SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment), an in vitro selection and amplification process. In short, the technology allows nucleic acid aptamers to be selected from pools of random-sequence oligonucleotides, enabling the researcher to bind a wide range of biomedically relevant proteins.
Learn about how SELEX technology is enriching the exciting field of aptamer-based therapy.