Development of an Aptamer-Gold Nanoparticle Assay for Field Use in Informing “DIY- HRT”
by Arthur Liang
Abstract – Most individuals on Feminizing Hormone Therapy receive their medications from a conventional supply chain. However, some utilize non-medical sources because they do not have access to medical care, have difficulty covering the cost, or distrust the medical establishment. Using a non-licensed supplier heightens the uncertainty that the hormone procured is the hormone received. Here, we aim to develop highly affinitive and selective aptamers for progesterone and testosterone for field-ready hormone detection “drug tests”. A good aptamer is characterized by high sensitivity and specificity for a specific target so discrimination against interfering agents is important for minimizing false positives. Researchers have identified several promising features and motifs of nucleotide sequences, stems, loops, and three-way junctions that may amplify aptamer specificity for targets. As a part of our testing procedure, we analyzed several existing progesterone and testosterone aptamers and developed our own using the MFold Web Server. We then characterized their performance in a visible to the eye colorimetric gold-nanoparticle (AuNP) assay to identify several promising testosterone and progesterone aptamers for further testing.