RNA-Targeted Therapeutics

Cell Metab. 2018 Apr 3;27(4):714-739. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.03.004.


RNA-targeted therapies represent a platform for drug discovery involving chemically modified oligonucleotides, a wide range of cellular RNAs, and a novel target-binding motif, Watson-Crick base pairing. Numerous hurdles considered by many to be impassable have been overcome. Today, four RNA-targeted therapies are approved for commercial use for indications as diverse as Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and reduction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and by routes of administration including subcutaneous, intravitreal, and intrathecal delivery. The technology is efficient and supports approaching "undruggable" targets. Three additional agents are progressing through registration, and more are in clinical development, representing several chemical and structural classes. Moreover, progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which these drugs work has led to steadily better clinical performance and a wide range of mechanisms that may be exploited for therapeutic purposes. Here we summarize the progress, future challenges, and opportunities for this drug discovery platform.

Keywords: GalNAc; RNAi; anti-miRs; antisense; oligonucleotide; siRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Discovery
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / therapy*
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / chemistry
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / therapeutic use*


  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Small Interfering