Therapeutic siRNA: State-of-the-Art and Future Perspectives

BioDrugs. 2022 Sep;36(5):549-571. doi: 10.1007/s40259-022-00549-3. Epub 2022 Aug 23.


The highly specific induction of RNA interference-mediated gene knockdown, based on the direct application of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), opens novel avenues towards innovative therapies. Two decades after the discovery of the RNA interference mechanism, the first siRNA drugs received approval for clinical use by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency between 2018 and 2022. These are mainly based on an siRNA conjugation with a targeting moiety for liver hepatocytes, N-acetylgalactosamine, and cover the treatment of acute hepatic porphyria, transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis, hypercholesterolemia, and primary hyperoxaluria type 1. Still, the development of siRNA therapeutics faces several challenges and issues, including the definition of optimal siRNAs in terms of target, sequence, and chemical modifications, siRNA delivery to its intended site of action, and the absence of unspecific off-target effects. Further siRNA drugs are in clinical studies, based on different delivery systems and covering a wide range of different pathologies including metabolic diseases, hematology, infectious diseases, oncology, ocular diseases, and others. This article reviews the knowledge on siRNA design and chemical modification, as well as issues related to siRNA delivery that may be addressed using different delivery systems. Details on the mode of action and clinical status of the various siRNA therapeutics are provided, before giving an outlook on issues regarding the future of siRNA drugs and on their potential as one emerging standard modality in pharmacotherapy. Notably, this may also cover otherwise un-druggable diseases, the definition of non-coding RNAs as targets, and novel concepts of personalized and combination treatment regimens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylgalactosamine*
  • Humans
  • Prealbumin* / genetics
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / therapeutic use


  • Prealbumin
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Acetylgalactosamine