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Custom Aptamer Services

Aptamers are short single-stranded nucleic acid oligomers (DNA or RNA) capable of folding into highly organised, complex structures enabling ligation to molecular targets with high affinity. They can have sequence-dependent structures, characterised by stems, loops, bulges, hairpins, pseudoknots, triplexes, or quadruplexes.

Aptamers form simple secondary structures that can fold further to give complex tertiary structures, enabling aptamers to form complementary shapes wrapping around all or part of their target (small molecules) or to fit snugly into clefts and gaps within the surface of much larger targets.

This structural complementarity facilitates formation of electrostatic interactions or hydrogen bonds between the aptamer and its target, as well as stacking interactions between aromatic compounds and the nucleobases. This ability to fold into or around a target means that it is should be theoretically possible to select specific aptamers to almost any given target.

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Aptamers have been successfully raised to a diverse range of targets, including:

  • Inorganic and small organic molecules
  • Peptides & proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Complex targets – cells, viruses, microorganisms, tissue sections

Aptamers bind to other molecules with a higher degree of specificity and sensitivity than antibodies. They also have few of the drawbacks associated with antibodies, making them suitable replacements in many applications. The aptamers our manufacturing partners develop are used in a variety of areas of life sciences research ranging from R&D consumables such as, fluorescence microscopy & flow cytometry probes through to purification (immunoprecipitation-like) reagents. Our manufacturing partners develop aptamers for use in clinical and non-clinical diagnostics and as candidate molecules for targeted therapeutics. We have also developed a first in-kind biomarker discovery process, which is set to breathe new life into the proteomics market. The greatest imapct aptamers have are currently where they are being used in a variety of scenarios where antibodies have failed and are being expertly combined with microfluidics, electrochemical sensors and various nanotechnologies.

The manufacturing costs and development times for monoclonal antibodies are several times higher and several times longer than the corresponding aptamer-based solution. Low manufacturing costs and speed of delivery means aptamers can be used at some point along the drug discovery process to facilitate the development of diagnostics and treatments.

As with antibodies, aptamers have a very diverse range of applications that they can be adapted towards. Presently, our manufacturing partners have developed expertise in:

  • Aptamer Beacons - here individual aptamer sequence carrying a fluorescent dye at one end and a quencher or FRET pair ‘acceptor’ dye at the other. Binding of the aptamer to the target results in a conformational change in the aptamer which changes the distance between the ends and therefore a change in fluorescence output. Email us for more information at
  • Biosenors - or Aptasensors, can be constructed by a variety of methodologies, including electrochemical biosensors, optical biosensors and mass-sensitive biosensors. Email us for more information at
  • Enzyme Linked Oligonucleotide Assays (ELONA) - aptamers can easily be incorporated into existing ELISA platforms. The resulting assays are known as ELONA. Email us for more information at
  • Flow Cytometry - the highly specific nature of aptamers means they are ideally placed for binding in complex media e.g. patient blood samples, yielding accurate data in a matter of minutes. Email us for more information at
  • Imaging - the specificity of binding also allows aptamers to be extremely useful in other imaging techniques like FACS & MRI. Email us for more information at
  • Lateral Flow - due to their very nature, aptamers are far more versatile and more suited for lateral flow applications. Email us for more information at
  • Microscopy - similar to use in flow cytometry above, the specificity conveyed by aptamers allows for many uses in micrsocopy. Email us for more information at
  • Protein Purification - the highly specific nature of aptamers also renders great use in affinity chromatography for purification. Email us for more information at
  • Western Blots - the benefits of using aptamers here are cleaner bands, fewer non-specific 'noise', direct conjugation to reporter, no membrane blocking steps required & significant lower costs. Email us for more information at

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