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Journal of Nucleic Acids
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 748913, 20 pages
Review Article

Challenges and Opportunities for Small Molecule Aptamer Development

Department of Chemistry, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6

Received 30 July 2012; Accepted 8 September 2012

Academic Editor: Masayasu Kuwahara

Copyright © 2012 Maureen McKeague and Maria C. DeRosa. 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.


Aptamers are single-stranded oligonucleotides that bind to targets with high affinity and selectivity. Their use as molecular recognition elements has emerged as a viable approach for biosensing, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Despite this potential, relatively few aptamers exist that bind to small molecules. Small molecules are important targets for investigation due to their diverse biological functions as well as their clinical and commercial uses. Novel, effective molecular recognition probes for these compounds are therefore of great interest. This paper will highlight the technical challenges of aptamer development for small molecule targets, as well as the opportunities that exist for their application in biosensing and chemical biology.