Potential of oligonucleotide-mediated exon-skipping therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Toshifumi Yokota, Emidio Pistilli, William Duddy, Kanneboyina Nagaraju
Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy 2007, 7 (6): 831-42
Many of the mutations associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can potentially be rescued by exon-skipping therapy, targeting selected exons of prespliced mRNA for the dystrophin gene with antisense oligonucleotides, thereby restoring reading frames. The recent development of antisense oligonucleotides with higher stability and lower toxicity, such as morpholinos, has made it possible to restore dystrophin efficiently in dystrophic mice in vivo with no obvious side effects. There seems little doubt that such exon-skipping therapy is destined to proceed to the clinical application stage in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. One of the remaining issues to be addressed is the skipping of multiple exons because such multi-exon skipping therapy could expand the potential patient target population to include 80% of those with duplication mutations and 90% of those with deletion mutations. At present, this multi-exon skipping strategy is being investigated in dystrophic dogs as well as dystrophic mice. There are several challenges that still need to be overcome, including the low uptake of antisense oligonucleotides into the heart and the need to design efficient, nontoxic, cost-effective oligonucleotides. This review summarizes recent progress in exon-skipping therapy and discusses future perspectives with regard to human clinical trials.

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