Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) have emerged as a new class of drugs to treat a wide range of diseases, including neurological indications. Spinraza, an ASO that modulates splicing of SMN2 RNA, has shown profound disease modifying effects in Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) patients, energizing the field to develop ASOs for other neurological disorders. While SMA specifically affects spinal motor neurons, other disorders affect different central nervous system (CNS) regions, neuronal, and non-neuronal cells. Therefore, it is critically important to characterize ASO distribution and activity in all major CNS structures and cell types to have a better understanding of which neurological diseases are amenable to ASO therapy. Here we present for the first time the atlas of ASO distribution and activity in the CNS of mice, rats, and non-human primates (NHP), species commonly used in preclinical therapeutic development. Following central administration of an ASO to rodents, we observe widespread distribution and robust activity throughout the CNS in neurons, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and microglia. This is also the case in NHP, despite larger CNS volume and more complex neuroarchitecture. Our results demonstrate that ASO drugs are well suited for treating a wide range of neurological diseases for which no effective treatments are available.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience