Aptamers come of age – at last
Nucleic-acid aptamers have the molecular recognition properties of antibodies, and can be isolated robotically for high-throughput applications in diagnostics, research and therapeutics. Unlike antibodies, however, they can be chemically derivatized easily to extend their lifetimes in biological fluids and their bioavailability in animals. The first aptamer-based clinical drugs have recently entered service. Meanwhile, active research programmes have identified a wide range of anti-viral aptamers that could form the basis for future therapeutics.