Future Prospects for Aptamer Therapeutics

High-affinity aptamers can be generated readily against a variety of therapeutic protein targets, best illustrated perhaps, by the steady progression of aptamers selected against extracellular growth factors (VEGF, PDGF) and components of coagulation (thrombin, Factor IXa) and complement (C5) pathways through preclini-cal and clinical testing. With remarkable target specificity, versatile pharmaco-kinetic properties, ease of synthesis, and relatively low manufacturing costs, apta-mers are becoming established as a promising new class of medicines. Aptamers can be stabilized and shielded from renal filtration by a variety of chemical and compositional modifications for assessment in in vivo preclinical discovery programs and, ultimately, entry into the clinic. Recent FDA approval of Eyetech/ Pfizer's aptamer therapeutic (Macugen) for treatment of AMD is extremely encouraging and bodes well for the future of aptamer therapeutics in general. With a number of additional aptamers expected to enter clinical trials over the next year, aptamers appear poised to make a significant contribution to the treatment of acute and chronic diseases.


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