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Why Have Aptamers Not Been Commercialized in Diagnostic Applications?

    Thanks to all who participated in our poll on why aptamers have not been commercialized in diagnostic applications. The most popular response was platforms are designed for antibodies. I will avoid commenting on the vested interest of the Illuminati because I do not want to get into trouble with them. I think that all three of the other responses are valid. It is definitely true that existing diagnostic products have been designed with antibodies in mind. Passive immobilization of an antibody onto nitrocellulose works extremely well in lateral flow assays. Passive immobilization of an aptamer onto nitrocellulose is not passive, it goes there to die, or at least become non-functional. 

    Antibodies have evolved to ignore the overwhelming presence of serum albumin in blood and mucins in saliva and nasal fluid. They have had a billion years to co-evolve. Serum albumin is present in blood at an average concentration of 600 uM. If your target of interest is present at a concentration of 10 pM, there is a 6 million fold difference in abundance. Any binding of the aptamer to the serum albumin will saturate it away from a capacity to bind to your target. 

    At NeoVentures we have focused on making progress against this enemy. We are trying to overcome a billion year head by antibodies, but at least we have cognitive intelligence on our side. Our new Neomer selection method provides us with more power to identify sequences for specific targets that are not affected by serum albumin or IgG. Developing better aptamers is still part of the answer.