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Generation of Aptamer-Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Hybrid Materials

Presented at SCI Members' Forum 2013 on 19 Nov 2013

Dr. Alessandro Poma, Dr. Yao Xu and Dr. Nicholas Turner - The Open University

Abstract

Aptamers are novel tools (made of nucleic acids) capable of binding with high affinity and selectivity to a variety of targets, ranging from small molecules to proteins. These characteristics make them attractive alternatives to antibodies for diagnostic/sensing purposes, even though they are quite susceptible to enzymatic and chemical degradation. By slightly changing the chemical structure of the aptamer DNA, aim of this work is to develop the first hybrid aptamer-imprinted polymer system, in which the aptamer acts as the recognition part of a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP). MIPs involve the formation of a small binding pocket in a polymer which is chemically and shape specific for the target compound. These "smart materials" offer the robustness to work in extreme environmental conditions but usually cannot equal the affinity/specificity of their biomolecular counterparts. Such a hybrid system can potentially improve the selectivity of the aptamer but also protect the DNA strands from enzymatic and chemical degradation.