Aptamers: prospects in therapeutics and biomedicine

Front Biosci. 2005 May 1;10:1802-27. doi: 10.2741/1663.


Most biopolymer drugs to date have been proteins. However, the ability to select nucleic acid binding species (aptamers) has led to the development of protein inhibitors and modulators that are small, readily synthesized nucleic acids. The techniques for optimizing, stabilizing, and delivering nucleic acid therapies are just beginning to be developed, but the same engineering flexibility that has so far allowed the generation of multiple, high affinity and specificity binding species appears to also apply to the methods for adapting nucleic acids to clinical applications. We review the selection and characterization of various aptamers and their applications to a variety of disease states, and then focus on the hurdles that must be overcome for the use of aptamers as both exogenously delivered drugs and as gene therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotides / administration & dosage*
  • Oligonucleotides / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Oligonucleotides