Nucleic acid aptamers in human viral disease
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Nucleic acid aptamers are short, single-stranded oligonucleotides or their modified analogues which avidly and specifically interact with targeted ligands through their 3-dimensional structure. Aptamers can be selected out of a large combinatorial oligonucleotide library through an in vitro evolution process termed SELEX. Since 1990, a wide variety of aptamers targeted to ligands ranging from small molecules to complex mixtures have been isolated. Most selected aptamers have shown high specificity to and affinity for their ligands and are potential detection and/or diagnostic reagents. Furthermore, some aptamers specifically inhibit biological functions of targeted proteins, resulting in potent therapeutic candidates in disease models. Some recent advances to increase the stability of aptamers, extend their in vivo circulation time and their in vivo expression have pushed aptamers closer to therapeutic applications. This review presents recent developments in the field of aptamer research and focuses on their applications to human viral diseases, particularly HIV induced diseases.
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Zhiren Zhang, Institute of Brain Research, University of Tuebingen, Calwer Str. 3, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany