Echevarria L, Aupy P, Goyenvalle A. Exon-skipping advances for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Human molecular genetics 2018;27:R163-R172
A review of the current status of research into exon skipping for DMD and its challenges.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle wasting that has currently no cure. Exon-skipping strategy represents one of the most promising therapeutic approaches that aim to restore expression of a shorter but functional dystrophin protein. The antisense field has remarkably progress over the last years with recent accelerated approval of the first antisense oligonucleotide-based therapy for DMD, Exondys 51, though the therapeutic benefit remains to be proved in patients. Despite clinical advances, the poor effective delivery to target all muscle remains the main hurdle for antisense drug therapy. This review describes the antisense-based exon-skipping approach for DMD, from proof-of-concept to first marketed drug. We discuss the main obstacles to achieve a successful exon-skipping therapy and the latest advances of the international community to develop more powerful chemistries and more sophisticated delivery systems in order to increase potency, bioavailability and safety. Finally, we highlight the importance of collaborative efforts and early dialogue between drug developers and regulatory agencies in order to overcome difficulties, find appropriate outcome markers and collect useful data.