RNA Aptamers: A New Paradigm in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Biomarkers, Drug Discovery and Development, Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical,
  • Thursday, November 07, 2013

RNA aptamers are an emerging class of molecules demonstrating significant potential in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. RNA aptamers are small, single-stranded RNA molecules that are functionally analogous to antibodies. However, RNA aptamers can be produced by chemical synthesis and their small size, low immunogenicity, and other attributes give them important advantages over antibodies. In addition, stable, ribonuclease-resistant RNA aptamers can be readily produced which further extends their use for both in vitro and in vivo applications.

This presentation will focus on the use of RNA aptamers for developing cancer diagnostics and treatments. Speakers will present on techniques and methods involved in:

  • Selecting and using RNA aptamers as therapeutic agents
  • Targeted delivery of therapeutics such as siRNA
  • Development of biosensors/diagnostics for early cancer detection


Paolo Serafini, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine

Dr. Serafini earned his B.S. in Molecular Biology and Ph.D. in Oncology and Immunology from University of Padova, Italy. He did a Post-doc at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he studied tumor-induced immune suppression and continues to serve as consultant for the Johns Hopkins Head and Neck Cancer SPORE. He served as Principle Investigator in numerous federal and private foundation grants.

Dr. Serafini’s research interests focus on understanding the molecular and cellular pathways that regulate immune tolerance in physiological and disease states. His team has optimized the SELEX and Cell-SELEX aptamer selection techniques and can now generate aptamers specific for a given protein in less than 15 days. Using these tools he demonstrated the essential role of IL4Ra in MDSC survival and delivery of siRNA and therapeutics to these cells in vivo.

Dr. Serafini has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the biology of MDSCs and identified different genetic targets whose inhibition can reverse MDSC’s ability to restrain effector T cells activity.

Message Presenter

Samir Iqbal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering (Courtesy), Nanotechnology Research and Education Center, University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. Iqbal received his Bachelor Degree in Engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi Pakistan and earned his doctorate from Purdue University in 2007. He was a post-doc in Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington. At UT-Arlington, he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, the director of the Nano-Bio Lab in Nanotechnology Research and Education Center and holds a courtesy position in Bioengineering Department. He was an awardee of NSF CAREER grant in 2009. He is a senior member of IEEE, a member of Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Physical Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Biophysical Society. He has published over 35 journal papers and presented at many international conferences. He was named “Recognized Professor” by Phi Kappa Phi in 2011 and was inducted as Eminent Engineer in Tau Beta Pi in 2013.

Dr. Iqbal’s research interests focus on the integration of aptamers with microfluidic and nanoscale devices towards early cancer detection.

Message Presenter

Justin Dassie, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Iowa

Justin Dassie received his B.S. in Biological Sciences from Illinois State University and completed his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Iowa. He is currently a post-doctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Paloma Giangrande, Ph.D an expert in RNA therapeutics and delivery. Dr. Dassie has expertise in aptamer and siRNA delivery technology. He has published several manuscripts on aptamer-targeted delivery of siRNAs through the use of aptamer-siRNA chimeras (AsiCs).

Message Presenter

Who Should Attend?

Academic, Pharmaceutical, and Biotech researchers involved biomarker discovery and developing drugs and companion diagnostics for human diseases such as cancer

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Epicentre® (an Illumina Company) manufactures innovative products for life science research, contributing to breakthrough studies in genomics, transcriptomics, and epigenetics. Epicentre offers products for variety of applications, including ribosome profiling, RNA sequencing, gene expression analysis, DNA and RNA purification, PCR and RT-PCR, in vitro transcription, and microbial genomics.

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