Nucleic acid aptamers possess attractive features such as specific molecular recognition, high-affinity binding, and rapid acquisition and replication, which could be feasible components for separating specific cells from other cell types. This study demonstrates that aptamers conjugated to an oligopeptide self-assembled monolayer (SAM) can be used to selectively trap human hepatic cancer cells from cell mixtures containing normal human hepatocytes or human fibroblasts. Molecular dynamics calculations have been performed to understand how the configurations of the aptamers are related to the experimental results of selective cell capture. We further demonstrate that the captured hepatic cancer cells can be detached and collected along with electrochemical desorption of the oligopeptide SAM, and by repeating these catch-and-release processes, target cells can be enriched. This combination of capture with aptamers and detachment with electrochemical reactions is a promising tool in various research fields ranging from basic cancer research to tissue engineering applications.
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