Emerging cancer-specific therapeutic aptamers

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Abstract

Purpose of review

We will describe recently discovered smart aptamers with tumor specificity, with an emphasis on targeted delivery of novel therapeutic molecules, cancer-specific biomarkers, and immunotherapy.

Recent findings

The development of cancer-specific aptamers has facilitated targeted delivery of potent therapeutic molecules to cancer cells without harming nontumoral cells. This specificity also makes it possible to discover novel cancer biomarkers. Furthermore, alternative immune-checkpoint blockade aptamers have been developed for combinational immunotherapy.

Summary

Aptamers selected against cancer cells show cancer specificity, which has great potential for targeting. First, functionalizing targeted aptamers with therapeutic molecule payloads (e.g., small activating RNAs, antimitotic drugs, therapeutic antibodies, and peptides) facilitates successful delivery into cancer cells. This approach greatly improves the therapeutic index by minimizing side-effects in nontumoral cells. Second, cancer-specific proteins have been identified as cancer biomarkers through in-vitro and in-vivo selection, aptamer pull-down assays, and mass spectrometry. These newly discovered biomarkers improve therapeutic intervention and diagnostic specificity. In addition, the development of alternative immune-checkpoint blockade aptamers is suggested for use in combinational immunotherapeutic with current immune blockade regimens, to reduce the resistance and exhaustion of T cells in clinical trials.

Video abstract

http://links.lww.com/COON/A21.

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