Researchers, led by Shana Kelley, have introduced an innovative method to identify artificial DNA sequences with varying levels of binding to small molecules. This new approach, detailed in a study published in Nature Chemistry, has the potential to enhance diagnostic monitoring for patients with chronic illnesses.
Aptamers, artificial DNA sequences that selectively attach to small molecules, offer therapeutic applications similar to monoclonal antibodies. They’ve been used for cancer detection, pathogen recognition, and stem cell markers. However, creating aptamers with different binding strengths has been a challenge.
Kelley’s team developed a streamlined workflow called Pro-SELEX, which utilizes microfluidics, a molecular analysis technique, to isolate aptamers with desired binding affinities. Unlike traditional methods that require repetitive rounds of selection, Pro-SELEX allows monitoring of binding performance in a single round.
This advancement could significantly improve the development of diagnostic sensors, enabling continuous biomarker monitoring for chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular or kidney diseases. The ability to obtain aptamers with specific characteristics could lead to more effective and frequent testing, enhancing the management of chronic conditions.