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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 697923, 21 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/697923
Review Article

Aptamers as Both Drugs and Drug-Carriers

Department of Biochemistry, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

Received 16 December 2013; Revised 4 August 2014; Accepted 22 August 2014; Published 11 September 2014

Academic Editor: Christine Dufès

Copyright © 2014 Md. Ashrafuzzaman. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Aptamers are short nucleic acid oligos. They may serve as both drugs and drug-carriers. Their use as diagnostic tools is also evident. They can be generated using various experimental, theoretical, and computational techniques. The systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment which uses iterative screening of nucleic acid libraries is a popular experimental technique. Theory inspired methodology entropy-based seed-and-grow strategy that designs aptamer templates to bind specifically to targets is another one. Aptamers are predicted to be highly useful in producing general drugs and theranostic drugs occasionally for certain diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and so on. They bind to various targets like lipids, nucleic acids, proteins, small organic compounds, and even entire organisms. Aptamers may also serve as drug-carriers or nanoparticles helping drugs to get released in specific target regions. Due to better target specific physical binding properties aptamers cause less off-target toxicity effects. Therefore, search for aptamer based drugs, drug-carriers, and even diagnostic tools is expanding fast. The biophysical properties in relation to the target specific binding phenomena of aptamers, energetics behind the aptamer transport of drugs, and the consequent biological implications will be discussed. This review will open up avenues leading to novel drug discovery and drug delivery.