Dr. Gerald Zon’s latest “Zone in with Zon” blog post, dated November 4, 2013, and published by TriLink BioTechnologies of San Diego, suggests that aptamers may actually be superior to Mother Nature’s antibodies. Dr. Zon said that aptamers were first discovered approximately 20 years ago and are nucleic acids or peptides that bind to a specific target molecule. RNA or DNA aptamers are usually created from a large pool (library) of random sequences. However, he also pointed out that natural RNA aptamers exist in riboswitches. Dr. Zon noted that aptamers have “been used for an impressively wide variety of applications in either basic research or, especially, health-related diagnostics and therapeutics. This remarkable utility is clearly reflected in the publication statistics—since their discovery in 1990, there have been ~11,000 publications indexed to DNA or RNA aptamers in SciFinder with a projected average rate of ~5 per day in 2013! More than 1,600 of these publications are patents, which is a stunning testament to the commercial potential of aptamers.” Dr. Zon went on to describe how in 1990, two independent laboratories separately described different methods for RNA selection, without using an RNA replicase. One method was published in Science by Drs. Craig Turk and Larry Gold, and the other was published in Nature by Drs. Andrew D. Ellington and Jack W. Szostak Dr. Zon went on to note that the vast body of literature covering basic research and numerous applications of nucleic acid aptamers is a stunning testament to the enabling power of these molecules, and to the myriad of expanded types of aptamers and aptamer-generation methods.
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