Cytotoxic effects of aptamer-doxorubicin conjugates in an ovarian cancer cell line

Justin L. Henri, Maryam Nakhjavani, Scott McCoombe, Sarah Shigdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Despite medical advances in treatment strategies over the past 30-years, epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) continues to be defined by poor patient survival rates and aggressive, drug resistant relapse. Traditional approaches to cancer chemotherapy are typically limited by severe off-target effects on healthy tissue and aggressive drug-resistant recurrence. Recent shifts towards targeted therapies offer the possibility of circumventing the obstacles experienced by these treatments. While antibodies are the pioneering agents in such targeted therapies, several intrinsic characteristics of antibodies limits their clinical translation and efficacy. In contrast, oligonucleotide chemical antibodies, known as aptamers, are ideal for this application given their small size and lack of immunogenicity. This study explored the efficacy of a DNA aptamer, designed to target a well-established cancer biomarker, EpCAM, to deliver a chemotherapeutic drug. The results from this study support evidence that EpCAM aptamers can bind to epithelial ovarian cancer; and offers a valid alternative as a targeting ligand with tuneable specificity and sensitivity. It also supports the growing body of evidence that aptamers show great potential for application-specific, post-SELEX engineering through rational modifications. Through in vitro assays, these aptamers demonstrated cytotoxicity in both monolayer and tumoursphere assays, as well as in tumourigenic enriching assays. Further experimentation based on the results achieved in this project might aid in the development of novel cancer therapeutics and guide the novel designs of drugs for targeted drug delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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