Novel insights into the role of aptamers in the fight against cancer

  • Yasen Maimaitiyiming
  • De Fei Hong
  • Chang Yang
  • Hua NaranmanduraEmail author
Review – Cancer Research



Aptamers are a class of single-stranded nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) oligonucleotides that are screened in vitro by a technique called systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). They have stable three-dimensional structures that can bind to various targets with high affinity and specificity. Due to distinct properties such as easy synthesis, high stability, small size, low toxicity and immunogenicity, they have been largely studied as anticancer agents/tools. Consequently, aptamers are starting to play important roles in disease prevention, diagnosis and therapy. This review focuses on studies that evaluated the effect of aptamers on various aspects of cancer therapy. It also provides novel and unique insights into the role of aptamers on the fight against cancer.


We reviewed literatures about the role of aptamers against cancer from PUBMED databases in this article.


Here, we summarized the role of aptamers on the fight against cancer in a unique point of view. Meanwhile, we presented novel ideas such as aptamer–pool–drug conjugates for the treatment of refractory cancers.


Aptamers and antibodies should form a “coalition” against cancers to maximize their advantages and minimize disadvantages.


Aptamer Antibody Cancer cell heterogeneity and plasticity Targeted therapy Immunotherapy SELEX 



All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this article.

Author contributions

HN conceived and designed the study. YM is the major contributor in collecting, analyzing literature and writing of the manuscript. DFH and CY aided in the process of collecting and analyzing literature. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


The authors wish to acknowledge following grants for the support of current work: National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 81673521; no. 81872942); National Science and Technology Major Project (no. 2018ZX10302-206); Key Project of Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology of Zhejiang Province (2015ZZ006).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declared that they have no potential conflicts of interest regarding research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical approval

This study does not contain any animal or human participants.

Informed consent

Not applicable.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.The Affiliated Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Toxicology, School of Medicine and Public HealthZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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