Background: RNA aptamers are nucleic acids that bind to molecular

Background: RNA aptamers are nucleic acids that bind to molecular targets with comparable specificity
and affinity seen with antibodies. Unlike antibodies, aptamers can be produced economically via
chemical synthesis, can be chemically modified, and have low immunogenicity. Aptamers can be used to
target variety of small molecules for disease treatment.
Aptamers Addressing Restenosis (UIRF #13006)
Restenosis occurs after a stent procedure when the surrounding vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs)
grow enough around the stent to close the blood vessels. Restenosis occurs in about 23% of bare stent
procedures and about 10% of drug-eluting stent procedures. Currently, the therapeutic agents used in
drug-eluting stents suppress the growth of endothelial cells, which are needed to prevent clot
formation. Incorporating aptamers into drug-eluting stents would inhibit the migration and proliferation
of VSMCs while still allowing beneficial endothelial cell growth. The researchers have identified RNA
aptamers that internalize into VSMCs and/or specifically inhibit VSMC activation. These reagents can be
developed for the treatment of several cardiovascular pathologies including in-stent restenosis and
vascular remodeling associated with arteriosclerosis, vein graft disease, and cardiac allograft
arteriopathy. The aptamers discovered in these studies can be optimized for in vivo biomedical imaging
to identify regions at risk for blood clots and to document cellular response to therapy.