MicroRNA in neurodegenerative drug discovery: the way forward?

Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery
Kristyn Campbell, Stephanie A Booth


Neurodegenerative diseases occur when neuronal cells in the brain or spinal cord progressively lose function and eventually die. Pathological analysis of these tissues reveals changes that include the loss of synapses, tangles of misfolded protein and immune cell activation, even during very early stages of disease well before debilitating clinical signs are apparent. This suggests that if neurodegeneration is treated early enough, drugs designed to delay the progress of these diseases by either repairing the early damage and loss of neurons, or protecting neuron functionality from further insult, may be efficacious. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that can post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. They are particularly numerous within neurons where many are expressed with high specificity, which suggests that they have important roles in the healthy brain. Indeed, miRNAs are essential for the post-mitotic survival of neurons, implying a crucial role in survival and neuroprotection. This has focused attention on exploring the use of miRNA-based drugs as a means to correct cellular abnormalities and maintain neuronal function in neurodegenerative diseases. These efforts are spurred on by the rapid progress to...Continue Reading


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