A hitchhiker's guide to antisense and nonantisense biochemical pathways

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Antisense pharmaceutical research has sought to provide drugs that would yield effective therapies for diseases resulting from the production of deleterious proteins. The original concept was straightforward: eliminate production of unwanted proteins, such as oncogenic proteins, by blocking the function of their mRNAs; and block their mRNAs by adding 'antisense' nucleic acids that bind them through complementary base pairing. However, it has proven difficult to develop clinically useful antisense strategies. Conventional antisense nucleic acids are large, highly charged, complex molecules that interact with a wide variety of unintended cellular and microbial components, often causing 'nonantisense effects.' It is now clear that a broad knowledge of nucleic acid biochemistry will be needed to optimize antisense molecules for use in patients. The efficacy of naturally occurring antisense molecules and the success of antisense agricultural strategies prove that antisense approaches can be powerful and specific. Pharmaceutical antisense research can be expected to yield many valuable products once sufficient information about antisense mechanisms has been gathered and applied. This article explains the biochemical events that give rise to both antisense and nonantisense effects and provides guidelines for designing and evaluating antisense experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1517-1529
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996


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