DNA Oligonucleotides for Diagnostics and Therapeutics
Aptamers have attracted much attention recently for potential diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. This begs the question, “What is an aptamer?” In technical terms, an aptamer is a molecule that is tens of nucleotides in length, comprising single stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides. They are used in therapeutic, analytical, and diagnostic applications because they act as affinity molecules with great specificity.
Aptamers are non-immunogenic, molecularly stable, can be created synthetically, and therefore make ideal replacements for traditional antibody therapies. Put simply, think of aptamers as highly specialized transport mediums that carry specific payloads (genes, drug compounds, or molecules) to precise regions of the body. For instance, we have developed an aptamer that can readily be combined with a drug molecule, and when injected into the blood stream it is carried directly to the targeted cancerous cells. This allows use of limited, controlled dosing to minimize toxicity and negative side effects. Aptamers are commonly produced through a process called SELEX, Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment, developed in 1990. The SELEX method usually takes 1 to 3 months to produce Aptamers.
Our scientists have developed and patented a one-step rapid technique for developing Aptamers called RIDA. Rapid Isolation of DNA Aptamers (RIDA) is a technique for the isolation of high affinity and high selectivity Aptamers, which can be completed in days as compared to months and can produce better performing Aptamers. Our method uses the principles of a common laboratory procedure, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). This method allows us to separate Aptamers and collect them; at the time of collection they are ready for amplification. Our RIDA process can create Aptamers which can serve as replacements for antibody probes used in biomarker assays and enable targeted therapeutics. The Aptamers are capable of binding to disease markers , toxins, and diseased cells, potentially enabling sensitive detection and therefore early diagnosis of disease. Compared to antibodies, the Aptamers can provide lower cost, faster production, longer shelf life, and higher affinity and specificity.