Development of transferrin receptor aptamers as drug delivery vehicles for the treatment of brain metastases



ISSN: 2514-3247
(2018), Vol 2, 15-27

Published online: 27 April 2018

Full Text Access

Joanna Macdonald 1, Giovanni Mandarano 1, Rakesh Naduvile Veedu 2,3, and Sarah Shigdar 1,4,*

1 School of Medicine Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia- 3216
2 Centre for Comparative Genomics, Murdoch University, Perth, WA, Australia-6150

3 Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science, Perth, WA, Australia – 6009

4 Centre for Molecular and Medical Research, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia- 3216

*Correspondence to: Sarah Shigdar, Email:

Received: 15 December 2017 | Revised: 24 April 2018 | Accepted: 27 April 2018

© Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article, published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( This license permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction of this article, provided the original work is appropriately acknowledged, with correct citation details.


Affecting approximately up to 10-40% of all cancer patients, the prognosis for patients suffering from metastatic brain tumours is poor. Treatment of these metastatic tumours is greatly hindered by the presence of the blood brain barrier which restricts the overwhelming majority of small molecules from entering the brain. A novel approach to overcome this barrier is to target receptor mediated transport mechanisms present on the endothelial cell membranes, in particular the transferrin receptor. Given their specificity, safety profile and stability, nucleic acid-based therapeutics are ideal for this purpose. This review explores the development of bifunctional aptamers for the treatment of brain metastases.

KEYWORDS: Blood-brain-barrier, transferrin receptor, brain metastases, aptamers, bifunctional aptamer, drug delivery

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