Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a key player in inflammation and the main factor for the induction of acute phase protein biosynthesis. Further to its central role in many aspects of the immune system, IL-6 regulates a variety of homeostatic processes. To interfere with IL-6 dependent diseases, such as various autoimmune diseases or certain cancers like multiple myeloma or hepatocellular carcinoma associated with chronic inflammation, it might be a sensible strategy to target human IL-6 receptor (hIL-6R) presenting cells with aptamers. We therefore have selected and characterized different DNA and RNA aptamers specifically binding IL-6R. These IL-6R aptamers, however, do not interfere with the IL-6 signaling pathway but are internalized with the receptor and thus can serve as vehicles for the delivery of different cargo molecules like therapeutics. We succeeded in the construction of a chlorin e6 derivatized aptamer to be delivered for targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT). Furthermore, we were able to synthesize an aptamer intrinsically comprising the cytostatic 5-Fluoro-2′-deoxy-uridine for targeted chemotherapy. The α6β4 integrin specific DNA aptamer IDA, also selected in our laboratory is internalized, too. All these aptamers can serve as vehicles for targeted drug delivery into cells. We call them charomers—in memory of Charon, the ferryman in Greek mythology, who ferried the deceased into the underworld.
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