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Review Article

Therapeutic Aptamers: Evolving to Find their Clinical Niche

[ Vol. 27 , Issue. 25 ]


Shahid M. Nimjee* and Bruce A. Sullenger   Pages 4181 - 4193 ( 13 )


Background: The discovery that short oligonucleotides, termed aptamers, can fold into three-dimensional structures that allow them to selectively bind and inhibit the activity of pathogenic proteins is now over 25 years old. The invention of the SELEX methodology heralded in an era in which such nucleic acid-based ligands could be generated against a wide variety of therapeutic targets.

Results: A large number of aptamers have now been identified by combinatorial chemistry methods in the laboratory and moreover, an increasing number have been discovered in nature. The affinities and activities of such aptamers have often been compared to that of antibodies, yet only a few of these agents have made it into clinical studies compared to a large and increasing number of therapeutic antibodies. One therapeutic aptamer targeting VEGF has made it to market, while 3 others have advanced as far as phase III clinical trials.

Conclusion: In this manuscript, we hope the reader appreciates that the success of aptamers becoming a class of drugs is less about nucleic acid biochemistry and more about target validation and overall drug chemistry.


Aptamer, DNA, RNA, therapeutic, clinical trial, ligonucleotides.


Department of Neurological Surgery, Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC

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