Aptamers are nucleic acid-based ligands that exhibit promising features including specific and reversible target binding and inhibition. Aptamers can function as anticoagulants if they are directed against enzymes of the coagulation cascade. However, they typically suffer from nucleolytic digestion and fast clearance from the bloodstream. We present thrombin-binding aptamer amphiphiles that self-assemble into nanoscale polymeric micelles with a densely functionalized aptamer-displaying corona. We show that these micellar aptamers retain their native secondary structure in a crowded environment and are stabilized against degradation by nucleases in human serum. Moreover, they are effective inhibitors of human plasma clotting in vitro. The inhibitory effect can be rapidly reversed by complementary nucleic acids that break the aptamers' secondary structure upon hybridization. Compared to free aptamers, the increased molecular weight and size of the overall assembly promotes extended blood circulation times in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry