Aptamers are single-stranded, synthetic oligonucleotides that fold into 3-dimensional shapes capable of binding non-covalently with high affinity and specificity to a target molecule. They are generated via an in vitro process known as the Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment, from which candidates are screened and characterized, and then used in various applications. These applications range from therapeutic uses to biosensors for target detection. Aptamers for small molecule targets such as toxins, antibiotics, molecular markers, drugs, and heavy metals will be the focus of this review. Their accurate detection is needed for the protection and wellbeing of humans and animals. However, the small molecular weights of these targets, including the drastic size difference between the target and the oligonucleotides, make it challenging to select, characterize, and apply aptamers for their detection. Thus, recent (since 2012) notable advances in small molecule aptamers, which have overcome some of these challenges, are presented here, while defining challenges that still exist are discussed.

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Keywords Aptamer, Biosensor, In vitro selection, SELEX, Small molecule
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2016.00014
Journal Frontiers in Chemistry
Ruscito, A. (Annamaria), & DeRosa, M.C. (2016). Small-molecule binding aptamers: Selection strategies, characterization, and applications. Frontiers in Chemistry (Vol. 4). doi:10.3389/fchem.2016.00014