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Huntingtin-lowering strategies in Huntington's disease: Antisense oligonucleotides, small RNAs, and gene editing.

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Mov Disord 2014 Sep; 29(11):1455-61

Authors: Neil Aronin, Marian DiFiglia

The idea to lower mutant huntingtin is especially appealing in Huntington's disease (HD). It is autosomal dominant, so that expression of the mutant allele causes the disease. Advances in RNA and gene regulation provide foundations for the huntingtin gene (both normal and mutant alleles) and possibly the mutant allele only. There is much preclinical animal work to support the concept of gene and RNA silencing, but, to date, no clinical studies have been attempted in HD. Preventing expression of mutant huntingtin protein is at the cusp for a human trial. Antisense oligonucleotides delivered to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis have been well tolerated; small RNAs administered to rodent and nonhuman primate brain knocked down huntingtin messenger RNA (mRNA); short-hairpin complementary DNA of microRNAs can be expressed in adeno-associated virus to provide long-term silencing of huntingtin mRNA and protein. We expect that these approaches will be ready for clinical studies in the near future, once safety has been validated. Our understanding of gene editing-changing the huntingtin gene itself-is rapidly progressing. Harnessing our knowledge of transcription and translation should push scientific creativity to new and exciting advances that overcome the lethality of the mutant gene in HD. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

PMID: 25164989 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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