Two different antisense oligonucleotide–based (ASO-based) therapies are currently in clinical use to treat neuromuscular diseases. This success, for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy, offers hope not only for additional neuromuscular diseases, but also for other disorders that could benefit from RNA-targeted therapies. A major limitation for more widespread application of ASOs relates to relatively poor tissue penetration. In this issue of the JCI, Klein et al. showed that conjugating an ASO with an arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptide, Pip6a, enhanced delivery, resulting in corrective outcome for a mouse model of myotonic dystrophy. Linking ASOs to cell-penetrating peptides, or even other moieties, is an approach currently under development with treatment potential to expand to other disorders.
Elizabeth M. McNally, Brian D. Leverson