Small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) as a promising tool for ocular therapy

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RNA interference (RNAi) can be used to inhibit the expression of specific genes in vitro and in vivo, thereby providing an extremely useful tool for investigating gene function. Progress in the understanding of RNAi-based mechanisms has opened up new perspectives in therapeutics for the treatment of several diseases including ocular disorders. The eye is currently considered a good target for RNAi therapy mainly because it is a confined compartment and, therefore, enables local delivery of small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) by topical instillation or direct injection. However, delivery strategies that protect the siRNAs from degradation and are suitable for long-term treatment would be help to improve the efficacy of RNAi-based therapies for ocular pathologies. siRNAs targeting critical molecules involved in the pathogenesis of glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and neovascular eye diseases (age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and corneal neovascularization) have been tested in experimental animal models, and clinical trials have been conducted with some of them. This review provides an update on the progress of RNAi in ocular therapeutics, discussing the advantages and drawbacks of RNAi-based therapeutics compared to previous treatments.

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