ARTICLE ABSTRACTPancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive malignancy with a very low median survival rate. The lack of early sensitive diagnostic markers is one of the main causes of PDAC-associated lethality. Therefore, to identify novel pancreatic cancer biomarkers that can facilitate early diagnosis and also help in the development of effective therapeutics, we developed RNA aptamers targeting pancreatic cancer by Cell-systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) approach. Using a selection strategy that could generate aptamers for 2 pancreatic cancer cell lines in one selection scheme, we identified an aptamer SQ-2 that could recognize pancreatic cancer cells with high specificity. Next, by applying 2 alternative approaches: (i) aptamer-based target pull-down and (ii) genome-wide microarray-based identification of differentially expressed mRNAs in aptamer-positive and -negative cells, we identified alkaline phosphatase placental-like 2 (ALPPL-2), an oncofetal protein, as the target of SQ-2. ALPPL-2 was found to be ectopically expressed in many pancreatic cancer cell lines at both mRNA and protein levels. RNA interference-mediated ALPPL-2 knockdown identified novel tumor-associated functions of this protein in pancreatic cancer cell growth and invasion. In addition, the aptamer-mediated identification of ALPPL-2 on the cell surface and cell secretions of pancreatic cancer cells supports its potential use in the serum- and membrane-based diagnosis of PDAC. Cancer Res; 73(6); 1934–45. ©2012 AACR.