Predicting Uncertain Future of Aptamer-Based Diagnostics & Therapeutics

Molecules. 2015 Apr 16;20(4):6866-6887. (Open access – Full article)

By John Bruno

Abstract: Despite the great promise of nucleic acid aptamers in the areas of diagnostics and therapeutics for their facile in vitro development, lack of immunogenicity and other desirable properties, few truly successful aptamer-based products exist in the clinical or other markets. Core reasons for these commercial deficiencies probably stem from industrial commitment to antibodies including a huge financial investment in humanized monoclonal antibodies and a general ignorance about aptamers and their performance among the research and development community. Given the early failures of some strong commercial efforts to gain government approval and bring aptamer-based products to market, it may seem that aptamers are doomed to take a backseat to antibodies forever. However, the key advantages of aptamers over antibodies coupled with niche market needs that only aptamers can fill and more recent published data still point to a bright commercial future for aptamers in areas such as infectious disease and cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. As more researchers and entrepreneurs become familiar with aptamers, it seems inevitable that aptamers will at least be considered for expanded roles in diagnostics and therapeutics. This review also examines new aptamer modifications and attempts to predict new aptamer applications that could revolutionize biomedical technology in the future and lead to marketed products.