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Aptamers are small oligonucleotide or peptide molecules which have high affinity and specificity for a target. Think of them as alternative antibodies!
Aptamers have drawn scientists’ attention due to their unique nature and properties, as well as the variety of their possible applications, such as for biosensing, bioimaging and therapeutic purposes!
Aptamers possess properties that make them highly desirable as compared to antibodies such as low manufacturing cost, enhanced stability and less immunogenicity.
Currently, aptamers are identified through SELEX, an in vitro process that singles out the aptamer with the highest affinity towards a target among an existing pool.
SELEX presents some important limitations and drawbacks; It is time consuming, expensive and some variations require specialized equipment. Most importantly, in vitro identified aptamers rarely work as expected in vivo.
A challenger approaches! Since SELEX’s inception 30 years ago, the aptamer identification scene has barely changed. We propose a radical new approach, which aims to overcome the limitations of SELEX. Our method is called MEDEA: Machine - Enhanced Directed Evolution of Aptamers!
We engineered a fully in vivo E. coli based system which optimizes aptamers using directed evolution, after starting from an aptamer provided through computational design.
Our method aims to be more affordable, accessible, and adaptable than SELEX, which will enable the identification of novel aptamers and their broader utilization.
Read on ahead to find out more about our project and click below to watch our official video!