Aptamers: A promising chemical antibody for cancer therapy

Gang Zhou, George Wilson, Lionel Hebbard, Wei Duan, Christopher Liddle, Jacob George and Liang Qiao _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:13446-13463. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7178

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Gang Zhou1, George Wilson1, Lionel Hebbard2, Wei Duan3, Christopher Liddle1, Jacob George1 and Liang Qiao1

1 Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia

2 Discipline of Molecular and Cell Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia

3 School of Medicine, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, VIC, Australia

Correspondence to:

Liang Qiao, email:

Wei Duan, email:

Keywords: aptamers, SELEX, siRNA, cancers, target therapy

Received: October 25, 2015 Accepted: January 24, 2016 Published: February 03, 2016


Aptamers, also known as chemical antibodies, are single-stranded nucleic acid oligonucleotides which bind to their targets with high specificity and affinity. They are typically selected by repetitive in vitro process termed systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). Owing to their excellent properties compared to conventional antibodies, notably their smaller physical size and lower immunogenicity and toxicity, aptamers have recently emerged as a new class of agents to deliver therapeutic drugs to cancer cells by targeting specific cancer-associated hallmarks. Aptamers can also be structurally modified to make them more flexible in order to conjugate other agents such as nano-materials and therapeutic RNA agents, thus extending their applications for cancer therapy. This review presents the current knowledge on the practical applications of aptamers in the treatment of a variety of cancers.

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