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Aptamer-mediated selective delivery of short RNA therapeutics in cancer cells

RNA interference (RNAi) is an important biological process that ultimately leads to suppression of gene expression. Activators of RNAi are typically small interfering RNAs (siRNA) and microRNAs (miRNA) that offer considerable therapeutic potnetial. However, a major obstacle to take these these molecules to the clinic is the absence of safe and reliable means for their specific delivery to target cells. In this regard, a highly promising class of molecules is represented by nucleic acid aptamers. These are short, structured, single-stranded RNAs or DNAs oligonucleotides that, by binding with high specificity to target molecules, provide high affinity ligands and potential antagonists of disease-associated proteins. Further, because of the high binding specificity, aptamers represent a powerful tool for the selective delivery of therapeutic cargos, including mi/ siRNAs, chemotherapeutics, toxins and nanoparticles to cancer cells or tissues, thus potentially increasing the efficacy of a given therapy as well as reducing toxicity. In this review, we will focus on recent advances in the field of aptamer-mediated mi/siRNA delivery, discussing their potential and challenges in cancer therapy.

Author(s): Carla Lucia Esposito, Silvia Catuogno and Vittorio de Franciscis*