Antisense Oligonucleotides: An Emerging Area in Drug Discovery and Development

J Clin Med. 2020 Jun 26;9(6):2004. doi: 10.3390/jcm9062004.


Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) bind sequence specifically to the target RNA and modulate protein expression through several different mechanisms. The ASO field is an emerging area of drug development that targets the disease source at the RNA level and offers a promising alternative to therapies targeting downstream processes. To translate ASO-based therapies into a clinical success, it is crucial to overcome the challenges associated with off-target side effects and insufficient biological activity. In this regard, several chemical modifications and diverse delivery strategies have been explored. In this review, we systematically discuss the chemical modifications, mechanism of action, and optimized delivery strategies of several different classes of ASOs. Further, we highlight the recent advances made in development of ASO-based drugs with a focus on drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for clinical applications. We also discuss various promising ASO-based drug candidates in the clinical trials, and the outstanding opportunity of emerging microRNA as a viable therapeutic target for future ASO-based therapies.

Keywords: RNA; antisense oligonucleotides; chemical modifications; clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review