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Molecular Elucidation of Disease Biomarkers at the Interface of Chemistry and Biology

Zhang, Liqin, Wan, Shuo, Jiang, Ying, Wang, Yanyue, Fu, Ting, Liu, Qiaoling, Cao, Zhijuan, Qiu, Liping, Tan, Weihong
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2017 v.139 no.7 pp. 2532-2540
antibodies, biomarkers, blood serum, medicine, nucleic acids, oligonucleotides, patients, physicochemical properties, physiological state, prostate-specific antigen, prostatic neoplasms, systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment, therapeutics
Disease-related biomarkers are objectively measurable molecular signatures of physiological status that can serve as disease indicators or drug targets in clinical diagnosis and therapy, thus acting as a tool in support of personalized medicine. For example, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) biomarker is now widely used to screen patients for prostate cancer. However, few such biomarkers are currently available, and the process of biomarker identification and validation is prolonged and complicated by inefficient methods of discovery and few reliable analytical platforms. Therefore, in this Perspective, we look at the advanced chemistry of aptamer molecules and their significant role as molecular probes in biomarker studies. As a special class of functional nucleic acids evolved from an iterative technology termed Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX), these single-stranded oligonucleotides can recognize their respective targets with selectivity and affinity comparable to those of protein antibodies. Because of their fast turnaround time and exceptional chemical properties, aptamer probes can serve as novel molecular tools for biomarker investigations, particularly in assisting identification of new disease-related biomarkers. More importantly, aptamers are able to recognize biomarkers from complex biological environments such as blood serum and cell surfaces, which can provide direct evidence for further clinical applications. This Perspective highlights several major advancements of aptamer-based biomarker discovery strategies and their potential contribution to the practice of precision medicine.