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Oligonucleotides, or short synthetic chains of nucleic acids, are a growing class of therapeutics with FDA approved therapies primarily for genetic diseases, but with many clinical studies underway for use in treating cancers. Therapeutic molecules can take the form of antisense nucleotides, small interfering RNA (siRNA), microRNA, nucleic acid aptamers, and DNAzymes. Oligonucleotides are also used in applications such as forensics, diagnostics, and basic research as probes for in vitro detection of nucleic acid sequences by hybridization.
Since oligonucleotide synthesis proceeds with cyclic addition of phosphoramidite monomers onto a growing oligo chain tethered to a solid support, peptide synthesizers are well-suited for adaptation to perform these repetitive chemistry cycles similar to amino acid additions in peptide synthesis.