Sol-gel-derived bio/inorganic hybrid materials have been examined for diverse applications, including biosensing, affinity chromatography and drug discovery. However, such materials have mostly been restricted to the interaction between entrapped biorecognition elements and small molecules, owing to the requirement for nanometer-scale mesopores in the matrix to retain entrapped biorecognition elements. Herein, we report on a new class of macroporous bio/inorganic hybrids, engineered through a high-throughput materials screening approach, that entrap micron-sized concatemeric DNA aptamers. We demonstrate that the entrapment of these long-chain DNA aptamers allows their retention within the macropores of the silica material, so that aptamers can interact with high molecular weight targets such as proteins. Our approach overcomes the major limitation of previous sol-gel-derived biohybrid materials by enabling molecular recognition for targets beyond small molecules.
Keywords: aptamers; hybrid materials; material screening; sol-gel processes.
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