Graphic: Leza Berardone
A technique not deemed "sexy" enough for commercialization a decade ago may finally find its niche in proteomics. SomaLogic Inc. of Boulder, Colo. is pioneering aptamers, which are modified DNA molecules that bind specific proteins in body fluid samples. Aptamers are initially selected for specific binding activities from a huge starting pool, then variants are obtained during subsequent rounds of amplification. The technology builds on the ability of aptamers to bind tenaciously to proteins. "Single-stranded oligonucleotides can fold into any shape, and behave like antibodies," explains Larry Gold, SomaLogic founder.

To develop an aptamer screen, the researchers begin with a small amount of a purified protein from a particular cell type under particular conditions. That protein is used to select an aptamer from a pool, and the aptamer is eventually incorporated into an array with others that bind different proteins in that cell type, forming a...

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