Aptamers for challenging targets: from selection to applications
Dr. Maria DeRosa (Carleton)
Aptamers are synthetic nucleic acids with the ability to bind tightly and specifically to a target of interest. The compatibility of short nucleic acids with nanomaterials and polymer matrices affords the opportunity to marry the molecular recognition abilities of aptamers with the advanced properties of the material, such as signaling ability or differential permeability. This presentation will examine applications in agriculture and health where we have moved from selection and characterization of aptamers for relevant targets to incorporation into a nanomaterial system for either sensing or targeted delivery. Particular focus will be paid to small molecule-binding aptamers, which tend to have unique challenges in their selection and characterization that will be discussed.
Dr. Maria DeRosa is a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Carleton University. Her research examines a family of synthetic nucleic acids known as aptamers that can fold into 3D nanoscale structures capable of binding tightly to a specific molecular target. Her group is focused on developing a better understanding of how these systems work and using this information to design useful nanotechnology, such as biosensors, components for nanomedicine, or smart delivery devices. This research takes place in the LADDER (Laboratory for Aptamer Discovery and Development of Emerging Research), a facility funded jointly by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leaders Opportunity Fund and the Ontario Research Fund. Dr. DeRosa received her BSc and PhD in Chemistry from Carleton University in 1999 and 2003, respectively, and was awarded an Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship to do research at the California Institute of Technology from 2004-2005. In 2005, she returned to Carleton as a faculty member in the Chemistry Department and the Institute of Biochemistry. She was a recipient of the John Charles Polanyi Research Award for new researchers in 2006, an Ontario Early Researcher Award in 2010, and a Capital Educators Award in 2015.
Dr. DeRosa is the guest of Dr. Louis Cuccia