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Mol Ther. 2006 Mar;13(3):494-505. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

Design of noninflammatory synthetic siRNA mediating potent gene silencing in vivo.

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Protiva Biotherapeutics, 100-3480 Gilmore Way, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5G 4Y1.


Targeted silencing of disease-associated genes by synthetic short interfering RNA (siRNA) holds considerable promise as a novel therapeutic strategy. However, unmodified siRNA can be potent triggers of the innate immune response, particularly when associated with delivery vehicles that facilitate intracellular uptake. This represents a significant barrier to the therapeutic development of siRNA due to toxicity and off-target gene effects associated with this inflammatory response. Here we show that immune stimulation by synthetic siRNA can be completely abrogated by selective incorporation of 2'-O-methyl (2'OMe) uridine or guanosine nucleosides into one strand of the siRNA duplex. These noninflammatory siRNA, containing less than 20% modified nucleotides, can be readily generated without disrupting their gene-silencing activity. We show that, coupled with an effective systemic delivery vehicle, 2'OMe-modified siRNA targeting apolipoprotein B (apoB) can mediate potent silencing of its target mRNA, causing significant decreases in serum apoB and cholesterol. This is achieved at therapeutically viable siRNA doses without cytokine induction, toxicity, or off-target effects associated with the use of unmodified siRNA. This approach to siRNA design and delivery should prove widely applicable and represents an important step in advancing synthetic siRNA into a broad range of therapeutic areas.

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