Skip to content

Unlocking Therapeutic Potential: Aptamers as Promising Tools in Medicine

In recent years, the field of therapeutics has witnessed remarkable advancements in the development of novel treatment strategies. Among the emerging approaches, aptamers have emerged as powerful tools with immense potential in various therapeutic applications. Aptamers, short single-stranded nucleic acid or peptide molecules, can specifically bind to a wide range of targets, including proteins, small molecules, and even cells. This unique property makes aptamers an attractive alternative to traditional therapeutics. In this blog, we delve into the potential use of aptamers in therapeutics and explore their applications across different medical domains.

What are Aptamers? 

Aptamers are short, synthetic oligonucleotide or peptide sequences that adopt specific three-dimensional structures, allowing them to bind with high affinity and specificity to their target molecules. These target molecules can include proteins, enzymes, receptors, and even whole cells. The selection and design process of aptamers involves systematic screening from large libraries to identify sequences that exhibit the desired binding properties. Aptamers have advantages over their other biological counterparts including high specificity and affinity, versality, reduced immunogenicity, and easy chemical modification.

Applications of Aptamers in Therapeutics:

  • Targeted drug delivery: By conjugating aptamers to therapeutic molecules or nanoparticles, aptamers can facilitate targeted delivery to specific cells or tissues, reducing off-target effects and enhancing therapeutic efficacy (1).
  • Diagnostics: Aptamers can be utilized as diagnostic probes to detect disease-specific biomarkers, enabling early disease detection and monitoring of disease progression (2). You can read more about the advances in the use of aptamers in biosensors here: 
  • Anticoagulant therapy: Aptamers targeting coagulation factors have been developed as anticoagulant agents, providing an alternative to traditional anticoagulant drugs with improved safety profiles (3).
  • Cancer therapeutics: Aptamers can be designed to specifically bind to cancer cells or tumor-associated antigens, enabling targeted drug delivery, tumor imaging, and inhibition of cancer cell proliferation (4).
  • Antiviral agents: Aptamers targeting viral proteins or viral entry receptors have shown promise as antiviral agents, inhibiting viral replication and preventing viral entry into host cells (5).
  • Antibacterial agents: Aptamers can be developed to target and neutralize bacterial toxins or inhibit essential bacterial proteins, offering potential alternatives to traditional antibiotics (6).

Traditional aptamer selection methods have faced limitations in achieving commercial success as therapeutic agents, primarily due to the challenge of fully accounting for weak binding to off-target molecules. While aptamers exhibit high specificity and affinity for their intended targets, they can also exhibit non-specific binding to unintended off-targets, which can lead to undesirable effects and compromise their therapeutic potential. This limitation has hindered the translation of aptamers into clinical applications. However, NeoVentures has introduced a groundbreaking solution, Neomers. Neomers represents the next generation of aptamer selection, employing a closed, reproducible methodology that ensures the absence of binding to off-target molecules. By implementing a stringent selection process, NeoVentures aims to address the challenge of off-target binding, enhancing the specificity and safety of aptamers for therapeutic purposes. This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionize the field of aptamer therapeutics and propel the development of targeted and precise treatments for a wide range of diseases.

Aptamers hold tremendous promise as versatile and potent tools in the field of therapeutics. Their high specificity, ease of chemical modification, and reduced immunogenicity make them attractive candidates for targeted drug delivery, diagnostics, and treatment of various diseases. As research in aptamer technology continues to advance, we can expect to witness an increasing number of aptamer-based therapeutics entering clinical practice, revolutionizing the way we approach disease treatment and patient care. 

Learn more by getting in touch with our team today. Contact us on our website now.


1.Zhou, J., Rossi, J. J. (2017). Aptamers as targeted therapeutics: current potential and challenges. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 16(3), 181-202.

2.Song, S., Wang, L., Li, J., et al. (2018). Aptamer-based biosensors. Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 100, 53-66.

3.Toulmé, J. J. (2015). Anticoagulant aptamers: recent advances and perspectives in cardiovascular diseases. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 7(7), 897-913.

4.Ferreira, C. S. M., Matthews, C. S., Missailidis, S. (2016). DNA aptamers that bind to MUC1 tumour marker: design and characterization of MUC1-binding single-stranded DNA aptamers. Tumor Biology, 37(1), 4227-4235.

5.Zamecnik, P. C., Vacek, E. P., Cha, P., et al. (2020). FDA-approved antisense oligonucleotide-based therapies. Experimental and Molecular Pathology, 116, 104495.

6.Tang, Z., Shangguan, D., Wang, K., et al. (2007). Selection of aptamers for molecular recognition and characterization of cancer cells. Analytical Chemistry, 79(13), 4900-4907.