1 Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark2 Bacterial Cell Factories, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark3 Polymer Microsystems for Medical Diagnostics, Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark4 University of Queensland5 University of Queensland
Nucleic acid aptamers are short single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides that can bind to their targets with very high affinity and specificity, and are generally selected by a process referred to as systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment. Conventional antibody-based therapeutic and diagnostic approach currently employed against biotoxins pose major limitations such as the requirement of a live animal for the in vivo enrichment of the antibody species, decreased stability, high production cost, and side effects. Aptamer technology is a viable alternative that can be used to combat these problems. Fully sequestered in vitro, aptamers eliminate the need for a living host. Furthermore, one of the key advantages of using aptamers instead of antibodies is that they can be selected against very weakly immunogenic and cytotoxic substances. In this review, we focus on nucleic acid aptamers developed against various biotoxins of plant, microorganism, or animal origin and show how these can be used in diagnostics (e.g., biosensors) and therapy.