Aptamers are very small single-strand RNA or DNA molecules that acquire very complex secondary structures. They have similar or greater affinity and specifications to those found in monoclonal antibodies. The use of aptamers has been extended to therapeutics and diagnostics; in addition, they can be used as an effective delivery system for small molecules. There are currently several aptamers in clinical trials, one of which was recently approved by the FDA for use in treating macular degeneration.
Our laboratory works on the development of new aptamers with future biomedical applications. Aptamers can be used as therapeutic and diagnostic tools.
Our research focuses primarily on the generation of aptamers with an ability to induce and potentiate the antitumor immune response. We have developed antagonist and agonist aptamers in order to model the function of a receptor, thereby inhibiting or activating it according to therapeutic needs. One of the most novel applications of this technology is the use of aptamers to carry a load in vivo to a target cell; the nature of said load may be anything from a chemotherapy agent to siRNA or even another aptamer.