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Mol Ther. 2011 Feb;19(2):345-54. doi: 10.1038/mt.2010.261. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Chronic systemic therapy with low-dose morpholino oligomers ameliorates the pathology and normalizes locomotor behavior in mdx mice.

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School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Surrey, UK.


The administration of antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) to skip one or more exons in mutated forms of the DMD gene and so restore the reading frame of the transcript is one of the most promising approaches to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). At present, preclinical studies demonstrating the efficacy and safety of long-term AO administration have not been conducted. Furthermore, it is essential to determine the minimal effective dose and frequency of administration. In this study, two different low doses (LDs) of phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO) designed to skip the mutated exon 23 in the mdx dystrophic mouse were administered for up to 12 months. Mice treated for 50 weeks showed a substantial dose-related amelioration of the pathology, particularly in the diaphragm. Moreover, the generalized physical activity was profoundly enhanced compared to untreated mdx mice showing that widespread, albeit partial, dystrophin expression restores the normal activity in mdx mice. Our results show for the first time that a chronic long-term administration of LDs of unmodified PMO, equivalent to doses in use in DMD boys, is safe, significantly ameliorates the muscular dystrophic phenotype and improves the activity of dystrophin-deficient mice, thus encouraging the further clinical translation of this approach in humans.

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