18th April 2018

Previously we introduced aptamers as a tool for cell specific staining. Here we have taken this technology a step further to demonstrate that aptamers can monitor disease progression in cancer.

By utilising our selection methodology, we can rapidly isolate aptamers against cells in different disease states. Through this process we have been able to identify aptamers against 3 different disease state cell lines in 3 months, an objective where 10 years of research failed.

In this example we carried out our standard cell selection against different stages of throat cancer. We then used the cells in different disease states for counter selection. One of the key drivers for this project was to ensure that each aptamer is specific against their target cell stage. To view this, we labelled each aptamer with a fluorophore and viewed them using confocal microscopy.

Comparing healthy to disease state cells using aptamers

Figure 1: Each aptamer population (pink) has been incubated with different throat cells (left to right: Healthy Cells, Early and Late Stage Cancer and a Closely Related Cancer). Nuclear counter stain was used as a control (purple).

Using this method, we have shown that we have selected aptamers which are specific to the same cell type at different stages within a disease cycle.

One of the unique features of this approach is that we do not need to know the specific biomarker we are raising aptamers against, only that there is a difference between the cell lines. This allows us to simultaneously perform biomarker discovery while developing imaging reagents.

Learn more about our aptamer selection services against cells, proteins or small molecules by emailing info@aptamergroup.co.uk or calling +44 1904 567 790.