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Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 1568-0266
ISSN (Online): 1873-4294

Nucleic Acids as Therapeutic Agents

Author(s): Luis M. Alvarez-Salas

Volume 8, Issue 15, 2008

Page: [1379 - 1404] Pages: 26

DOI: 10.2174/156802608786141133

Price: $65


Therapeutic nucleic acids (TNAs) and its precursors are applied to treat several pathologies and infections. TNA-based therapy has different rationales and mechanisms and can be classified into three main groups: 1) Therapeutic nucleotides and nucleosides; 2) Therapeutic oligonucleotides; and 3) Therapeutic polynucleotides. This review will focus in those TNAs that have reached clinical trials with anticancer and antiviral protocols, the two most common applications of TNAs. Although therapeutic nucleotides and nucleosides that interfere with nucleic acid metabolism and DNA polymerization have been successfully used as anticancer and antiviral drugs, they often produce toxic secondary effects related to dosage and continuous use. The use of oligonucleotides such as ribozyme and antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (AS-ODNs) showed promise as therapeutic moieties but faced several issues such as nuclease sensitivity, off-target effects and efficient delivery. Nevertheless, immunostimulatory oligodeoxynucleotides and AS-ODNs represent the most successful group of therapeutic oligonucleotides in the clinic. A newer group of therapeutic oligonucleotides, the aptamers, is rapidly advancing towards early detection and treatment alternatives the have reached the commercial interest. Despite the very high in vitro efficiency of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) they present issues with intracellular target accessibility, specificity and delivery. DNA vaccines showed great promise, but they resulted in very poor responses in the clinic and further development is uncertain. Despite their many issues, the exquisite specificity and versatility of therapeutic oligonucleotides attracts a great deal of research and resources that will certainly convert them in the TNA of choice for treating cancer and viral diseases in the near future.

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