Antisense oligonucleotide-based therapeutics for cancer

Oncogene. 2003 Dec 8;22(56):9087-96. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207231.


There has been steady progress in antisense technology over the past 14 years. We now have a far better appreciation of the attributes and limitations of the technology. Antisense oligonucleotides have been used to selectively inhibit thousands of genes in mammalian cells, hundreds, if not thousands, of genes in rodents and other species and multiple genes in humans. There are over 20 antisense drugs currently in clinical trials, several of which are showing promising results. Like any other class of drugs in development, there will continue to be successes and failures in the clinic. Despite some disappointments with the technology, it appears to be a valid platform for both drug discovery and as an experimental tool for functionalizing genes. Advances in the medicinal chemistry and formulation of antisense oligonucleotides will further enhance their therapeutic and commercial potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / adverse effects
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / chemistry
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacokinetics
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense