Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4010-4050. doi:10.7150/thno.72949 This issue


Aptamers used for molecular imaging and theranostics - recent developments

Lennart Bohrmann1,2, Tobias Burghardt1, Charles Haynes3,✉, Katayoun Saatchi1,✉, Urs O. Häfeli1,2,✉

1. Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
2. Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Bohrmann L, Burghardt T, Haynes C, Saatchi K, Häfeli UO. Aptamers used for molecular imaging and theranostics - recent developments. Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4010-4050. doi:10.7150/thno.72949. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Aptamers are single stranded oligonucleotides that fold into three dimensional structures and are able to recognize a variety of molecular targets. Due to the similarity to antibodies with regards to specificity and affinity and their chemical versatility, aptamers are increasingly used to create targeted probes for in vivo molecular imaging and therapy. Hence, aptamer-based probes have been utilized in practically all major imaging modalities such as nuclear imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, x-ray computed tomography, echography and fluorescence imaging, as well as newer modalities such as surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Aside from targeting, aptamers have been used for the creation of sensors that allow the localized detection of cellular markers such as ATP in vivo. This review focuses on in vivo studies of aptamer-based probes for imaging and theranostics since the comprehensive overview by Bouvier-Müller and Ducongé in 2018.

Keywords: Aptamers, in vivo imaging, molecular imaging, drug delivery, nanomedicine