Noncoding RNA therapeutics - challenges and potential solutions

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2021 Aug;20(8):629-651. doi: 10.1038/s41573-021-00219-z. Epub 2021 Jun 18.


Therapeutic targeting of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), represents an attractive approach for the treatment of cancers, as well as many other diseases. Over the past decade, substantial effort has been made towards the clinical application of RNA-based therapeutics, employing mostly antisense oligonucleotides and small interfering RNAs, with several gaining FDA approval. However, trial results have so far been ambivalent, with some studies reporting potent effects whereas others demonstrated limited efficacy or toxicity. Alternative entities such as antimiRNAs are undergoing clinical testing, and lncRNA-based therapeutics are gaining interest. In this Perspective, we discuss key challenges facing ncRNA therapeutics - including issues associated with specificity, delivery and tolerability - and focus on promising emerging approaches that aim to boost their success.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*


  • RNA, Long Noncoding