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Biosens Bioelectron. 2005 Jun 15;20(12):2424-34. Epub 2004 Dec 16.

Analytical applications of aptamers.

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  • 1Universit√† degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Chimica, Polo Scientifico, Via della Lastruccia 3, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy.


So far, several bio-analytical methods have used nucleic acid probes to detect specific sequences in RNA or DNA targets through hybridisation. More recently, specific nucleic acids, aptamers, selected from random sequence pools, have been shown to bind non-nucleic acid targets, such as small molecules or proteins. The development of in vitro selection and amplification techniques has allowed the identification of specific aptamers, which bind to the target molecules with high affinity. Many small organic molecules with molecular weights from 100 to 10,000 Da have been shown to be good targets for selection. Moreover, aptamers can be selected against difficult target haptens, such as toxins or prions. The selected aptamers can bind to their targets with high affinity and even discriminate between closely related targets. Aptamers can thus be considered as a valid alternative to antibodies or other bio-mimetic receptors, for the development of biosensors and other analytical methods. The production of aptamers is commonly performed by the SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment) process, which, starting from large libraries of oligonucleotides, allows the isolation of large amounts of functional nucleic acids by an iterative process of in vitro selection and subsequent amplification through polymerase chain reaction. Aptamers are suitable for applications based on molecular recognition as analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic tools. In this review, the main analytical methods, which have been developed using aptamers, will be discussed together with an overview on the aptamer selection process.

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