Because of their easily modified chemical structures and wide range of targets, aptamers are ideal candidates for various applications, such as biomarker discovery, target diagnosis, molecular imaging, and drug delivery. Aptamers are oligonucleotide sequences that can bind to their targets specifically via unique three dimensional (3-D) structures. Usually, aptamers are obtained from repeated rounds of in vitro or in vivo selection termed SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment), which can generate aptamers with high affinity and specificity for many kinds of targets, such as biomedically important proteins and even cancer cells. In this review, some basic principles and recent developments in the design of SELEX process are discussed, hopefully to provide some guidelines towards performing more efficient aptamer isolation procedures. Moreover, the biomedical and bioanalytical applications of aptamers are further reviewed, based on some smart biochemical modifications of these oligonucleotide structures.
Keywords: Aptamer, biomarker discovery, detection, drug delivery, imaging, molecular probe, SELEX, visualization, discovery
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