Aptamers are ligand-binding nucleic acids whose affinities and selectivities can rival those of antibodies. They have been adapted to analytical applications not only as alternatives to antibodies, but as unique reagents in their own right. In particular, aptamers can be readily site-specifically modified during chemical or enzymatic synthesis to incorporate particular reporters, linkers, or other moieties. Also, aptamer secondary structures can be engineered to undergo analyte-dependent conformational changes, which, in concert with the ability to specifically place chemical agents, opens up a wealth of possible signal transduction schemas, irrespective of whether the detection modality is optical, electrochemical, or mass based. Finally, because aptamers are nucleic acids, they are readily adapted to sequence- (and hence signal-) amplification methods. However, application of aptamers without a basic knowledge of their biochemistry or technical requirements can cause serious analytical difficulties.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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