The Future of Antisense Therapy: Combination With Anticancer Treatments

Oncogene. 2003 Sep 29;22(42):6579-88. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1206812.


The current direction in cancer research is rational drug design, which is based on the evidence that transformed cells are characterized by alterations of genes devoted to the regulation of both cell proliferation and apoptosis. A variety of approaches have been carried out to develop new agents selective for cancer cells. Among these, antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are one of such class of new agents able to inhibit specifically the synthesis of a particular cancer-associated protein by binding to protein-encoding RNA, thereby preventing RNA function. In the past decade, several ASOs have been developed and tested in preclinical and clinical studies. Many have shown convincing in vitro reduction in target gene expression and promising activity against a wide variety of tumors. However, because of the multigenic alterations of tumors, the use of ASOs as single agents does not seem to be effective in the treatment of malignancies. Antisense therapy that interferes with signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation and apoptosis are particularly promising in combination with conventional anticancer treatment. An overview of the progress of ASOs used in combination therapy is provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Clusterin
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Genes, bcl-2
  • Genes, myc
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • CLU protein, human
  • Clusterin
  • Glycoproteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense