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Dr. Xiao and her research team

Dr. Yi Xiao has been awarded $354,534 for her research on developing an innovative and generalizable technique, termed NA-SELEX,  to quickly isolate molecules – also known as aptamers – with a high likelihood of binding to specific target molecules.

Indispensable for scientific, clinical and forensic applications, aptamers can be difficult to separate. Current methods often produce aptamers that are not ideal for small-molecule targets. Dr. Xiao and her team are developing a process that would produce aptamers with superior recognition and binding properties by leveraging the structural specificity and efficiency of an enzyme produced by the FEN1 gene. 

In addition to accelerating the aptamer isolation process, the new technique could supplant existing methods for aptamer generation. Along with this research effort, Dr. Xiao will engage students and the community in her work through a series of seminars, presentations, camps and internships.

Dr. Xiao contributed to this story.