1. Faculty of Data Science and Information Technology, INTI International University, 71800 Nilai, Malaysia.
2. Department of Pharmaceutical Life Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia.
3. Centre for Virus and Vaccine Research, School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University, Selangor 47500, Malaysia.
4. Department of Biological Sciences, School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University, Selangor 47500, Malaysia.
5. Department of Pharmaceutical Life Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia.
6. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Asia Metropolitan University, 81750 Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
7. Faculty of Chemical Engineering & Technology, Arau 02600, Institute of Nano Electronic Engineering, Kangar 01000, Micro System Technology, Centre of Excellence, Arau 02600, Pauh Campus, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Perlis, Malaysia.
8. Institute of Nano Electronic Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), 01000 Kangar, Perlis, Malaysia.
9. Micro System Technology, Centre of Excellence (CoE), Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Pauh Campus, 02600 Arau, Perlis, Malaysia.
10. Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, Daffodil International University, Daffodil Smart City, Birulia, Savar, Dhaka 1216, Bangladesh.
11. Department of Biomedical Science and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
12. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Centre, Kansas City, Kansas 66103, United States.
13. School of Pharmacy, Monash University Malaysia, Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya 47500, Malaysia.
14. Department of Pharmacology, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, MONASH University, Malaysia.
15. Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Bioscience and Nursing, MAHSA University, Selangor 42610, Malaysia.
16. Centre of Excellence for Biomaterials Engineering & Faculty of Pharmacy, AIMST University, Bedong 08100, Malaysia.
17. Center for Transdisciplinary Research, Department of Pharmacology, Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Saveetha University, Chennai 600077, India.
18. Faculty of Pharmacy, AIMST University, Semeling, Bedong 08100, Malaysia.
19. Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, MAHSA University, Selangor 42610, Malaysia.
20. Department of Pharmacy, State University of Bangladesh, 77 Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1205, Bangladesh.
21. Health Med Science Research Network, 3/1, Block F, Lalmatia, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh.
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are among the most common cancers that impact the global population, with high mortality and low survival rates after breast and lung cancers. Identifying useful molecular targets in GI cancers are crucial for improving diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment outcomes, however, limited by poor targeting and drug delivery system. Aptamers are often utilized in the field of biomarkers identification, targeting, and as a drug/inhibitor delivery cargo. Their natural and chemically modifiable binding capability, high affinity, and specificity are favored over antibodies and potential early diagnostic imaging and drug delivery applications. Studies have demonstrated the use of different aptamers as drug delivery agents and early molecular diagnostic and detection probes for treating cancers. This review aims to first describe aptamers' generation, characteristics, and classifications, also providing insights into their recent applications in the diagnosis and medical imaging, prognosis, and anticancer drug delivery system of GI cancers. Besides, it mainly discussed the relevant molecular targets and associated molecular mechanisms involved, as well as their applications for potential treatments for GI cancers. In addition, the current applications of aptamers in a clinical setting to treat GI cancers are deciphered. In conclusion, aptamers are multifunctional molecules that could be effectively used as an anticancer agent or drug delivery system for treating GI cancers and deserve further investigations for clinical applications.
Keywords: Alimentary and digestive tract cancer, single-stranded oligonucleotides, therapeutic targets, cancer diagnosis, cancer prognosis, drug delivery