Aptamers are chemically synthesized single stranded oligonucleotides that are used to inhibit variety of target proteins and antigens. Aptamers specifically bind to a range of micromolar to macromolar molecular targets. They are basically of two types namely nucleic acid aptamers and peptide aptamers. Nucleic acid aptamers have the strand of oligonucleotides while peptide aptamers contain short peptide domain in its structure. Normally aptamers can be generated by the aptamer selection process known as SELEX process. Aptamer technology applies in number of areas such as diagnostics, food safety, research applications and therapeutics in number of industrial sectors like pharmaceutical, research laboratories and biotechnology.
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Transparency Market Research, a leading U.S based market research firm analyses the global market for aptamers and estimates the CAGR of 73.1% for the period 2013 – 2019. This is majorly due to increasing research and development activities by scientists coupled with increasing participation of government and private organizations in the U.S. and U.K. towards the development of this field. For example, in June 2014, Somalogic, Inc. received funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop SOMAmer based tuberculosis biomarker assay for the identification of patient’s tuberculosis.
The other factors such as advancement in aptamer selection technologies coupled with various advantages of aptamers over monoclonal antibodies will further drive the market growth. Several modifications of the SELEX procedure have been introduced to improve aptamer selectivity or to reduce selection time. Subtractive SELEX, automated SELEX and atomic force microscopy-SELEX are some of the modified SELEX processes available for aptamer selection with desired features. Companies like Archemix, Somalogic, Inc. and Aptamer Sciences, Inc. are constantly involved in collaboration strategy with number of biotechnology companies to develop their aptamer business. For example, Archemix collaborated with Elan to discover aptamers for treatment of autoimmune diseases. Thus, these types of collaboration will help companies to develop new aptamers hence drives the market growth. Moreover, large number companies have increased their research expenses on aptamers after first aptamer- Macugen approved by USFDA in 2004. For example, Germany-based NOXXAN Pharma AG has three aptamers namely NOX-E63, NOX A-12 and NOX-H94 under clinical pipeline. NOX-E63 and NOX A-12 are under phase II clinical studies. The approval of these aptamers in future would definitely boost the market growth of aptamers. Other features of aptamers like favorable toxicological property, high stability, ease of synthesis and rapid tissue penetration would significantly contribute to the growth of the market.
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The factors mentioned above are driving the development and commercialization of aptamers worldwide. However, unfavorable regulatory environment, lack of universal rule coupled with lack of knowledge of aptamers among research scientists will restrain the market growth. For example, there is no formal regulatory guideline that can satisfactorily address the quality and safety of aptamer molecule. Additionally, countries like Europe demands tedious documentation to start clinical trials on aptamers which will further restrain the market growth of aptamers.