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J Biol Chem. 2008 Jun 6;283(23):15845-52. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M800834200. Epub 2008 Mar 26.

Therapeutic gene silencing delivered by a chemically modified small interfering RNA against mutant SOD1 slows amyotrophic lateral sclerosis progression.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Chemical Biology Program, Cell Biology, and Neuroscience Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.


Inherited neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington disease and subset of Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are caused by the mutant genes that have gained undefined properties that harm cells in the nervous system, causing neurodegeneration and clinical phenotypes. Lowering the mutant gene expression is predicted to slow the disease progression and produce clinical benefit. Administration of small interfering RNA (siRNA) can silence specific genes. However, long term delivery of siRNA to silence the mutant genes, a requirement for treatment of these chronic central nervous system (CNS) diseases, remains a critical unsolved issue. Here we designed and tested a chemically stabilized siRNA against human Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) in a mouse model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We show that the modified siRNA has enhanced stability and retains siRNA activity. Administration of this siRNA at the disease onset by long term infusion into the CNS resulted in widespread distribution of this siRNA, knocked down the mutant SOD1 expression, slowed the disease progression, and extended the survival. These results bring RNA interference therapy one step closer to its clinical application for treatment of chronic, devastating, and fatal CNS disorders.

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