Novel Antisense Agent
University of California scientists have synthesized novel oligonucleotide analogs for use in antisense and related applications. Unlike ordinary DNA and RNA strands, the U.C. analogs incorporate modifications to the sugar-phosphate backbone that alter electrostatic properties of the strand. These changes enable U.C. analogs to resist attack by nucleases, restriction enzymes, and topoisomerases, thus making the analog much more stable in vivo than existing antisense agents. Also, these changes enhance the binding affinity of the analogs to complementary RNA single strands and DNA double strands, which improves performance of the analogs in most applications.
It is expected that the U.C. analogs will be strongly preferred over existing agents for antisense therapy to suppress expression of undesirable genes, particularly in antiviral and anticancer roles. The RNA analog might prove especially valuable in fighting retroviruses such as HIV (the etiologic agent that triggers AIDS), where such an analog could inhibit reverse transcriptase and other essential viral genes in vivo. With their superior stability and binding affinity, the U.C. analogs are also likely to find use as oligonucleotide probes in hybridization protocols, encompassing a wide variety of possible diagnostic and biotechnological applications.
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