Aptamer workshop report 2022

© Fraunhofer IZI-BB
In groups of two, participants performed complete aptamer in vitro selection and aptamer-target interaction analysis.

Aptamers are universal binding molecules, especially effective for biological targets and small molecules.

These highly specific, nucleic acid-based binding molecules are often key molecules in drug discovery for diagnostics and therapeutics. Aptamers are versatile and can be easily adapted to different assay formats, from lateral flow assays to so-called aptasensors. Their biological targets range from small proteins to viruses, bacteria and other cells.

The ability of these molecular detection molecules to recognize targets such as viruses, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or even Legionella subtypes makes them an outstanding analytical product for the health, environment, and nutrition sectors.

Dr. Marcus Menger is head of the Functional Nucleic Acids - Aptamers working group and the Cell-Free and Cell-Based Bioproduction department at Fraunhofer IZI-BB.  Together with Prof. Dr. Günter Mayer from the LIMES Institute at the University of Bonn, he organized this year's Aptamer Workshop. The Aptamer Workshop was held for the third time, but for the first time at the Fraunhofer IZI-BB in Potsdam. From August 22 to August 26, 12 participants from all over Europe learned everything about the theory and practice of working with aptamers in a compact week of active participation.

The goal of the workshop is not only to transfer knowledge to the participants, but also to bring the technology out into the world of science.  The more researchers who work with it, the more successful this unique technology can become and the more likely it is that the next generation of scientists will also become interested in aptamer technology. Experience from past workshops shows that sharing and networking are extremely important components of the event.

The workshop offers a balanced combination of theory and practice, consisting of the main topics aptamer selection, sequence analysis, characterization and application. Instead of long lectures and monotonous theoretical explanations, the workshop will dynamically alternate between theoretical content and hands-on training in the laboratory. The hands-on practice in the lab will be implemented with PhD students and technical staff from the Aptamer working group guiding the participants. As in previous years, this model ensures that there are many opportunities for interaction among participants, the group is more conducive to discussion, and the learning environment is pleasant.

The workshop is aimed at anyone interested in aptamers, whether they are working with them themselves as part of their research or just want to learn about the theoretical basis. PhD students who want to get a first impression of aptamer technology and benefit from the experience of the experts are also in the right place. A large part of the participants this year were PhD students and interested parties from industry.

The next workshop is expected to take place in Bonn in September 2023, Dr. Menger and Prof. Dr. Mayer are looking forward to welcoming many scientists again.


Text: Friederike Weckmann (Fraunhofer IZI-BB)