Aptamers are molecules identified from large combinatorial nucleic acid libraries by their high affinity to target molecules. Due to a variety of desired properties, aptamers are attractive alternatives to antibodies in molecular biology and medical applications. Aptamers are identified through an iterative selection-amplification process known as systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). Although SELEX is typically carried out using purified target molecules, whole live cells are also employable as selection targets. This technology, Cell-SELEX, has several advantages. For example, generated aptamers are functional with a native conformation of the target molecule on live cells, and thus, cell surface transmembrane proteins would be targets even when their purifications in native conformations are difficult. In addition, cell-specific aptamers can be obtained without any knowledge about cell surface molecules on the target cells. Here, I review the progress of Cell-SELEX technology and discuss advantages of the technology.
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