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Antisense therapy

Drugs & Medication

Antisense therapy

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Antisense therapy is a form of treatment for genetic disorders or infections. When the genetic sequence of a particular gene is known to be causative of a particular disease, it is possible to synthesize a strand of nucleic acid (DNA, RNA or a chemical analogue) that will bind to the messenger RNA (mRNA) produced by that gene and inactivate it, effectively turning that gene "off".

This synthesized nucleic acid is termed an "anti-sense" oligonucleotide because its base sequence is complementary to the gene's messenger RNA (mRNA), which is called the "sense" sequence (so that a sense segment of mRNA " 5'-AAGGUC-3' " would be blocked by the anti-sense mRNA segment " 3'-UUCCAG-5' ").

Antisense drugs are being researched to treat lung cancer, diabetes and diseases such as asthma and arthritis with an inflammatory component. Most potential therapies have not yet produced significant clinical results, though one antisense drug, fomivirsen (marketed as Vitravene), has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for cytomegalovirus retinitis.

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