BEDFORD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Stoke Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: STOK), a biotechnology company pioneering a new way to treat the underlying cause of severe genetic diseases, today announced the publication of data in the journal Nature Communications that support the company’s proprietary approach to precisely upregulate protein expression using TANGO (Targeted Augmentation of Nuclear Gene Output) antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs).
“Stoke was founded on the idea that we could use unique insights in RNA biology to do something that has never been done before,” said Isabel Aznarez, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Vice President, Head of Biology of Stoke Therapeutics and the corresponding author on the paper. “Rather than address genetic diseases by replacing, repairing or editing faulty genes, we set out to increase – or stoke – protein output from healthy genes. These data show that we can increase full-length, fully functional protein expression from a variety of healthy genes, which supports our hypothesis and may lead to a new way of treating severe genetic diseases.”
To evaluate the approach broadly, Stoke selected four gene targets that vary in type and abundance of non-productive splicing events, gene size and protein function: PCCA (propionic acidemia); SYNGAP1 (autosomal dominant mental retardation 5); CD274 (autoimmune diseases, including uveitis); and SCN1A (Dravet syndrome). Stoke designed TANGO ASOs to target the non-productive splicing events in these genes and their activity was evaluated. Dose-dependent reductions of non-productive mRNA were observed to lead to increases in both productive mRNA and protein levels for each of the target genes.
More than 10,000 genetic diseases are caused by mutations in a single gene, however, current therapeutic approaches address as few as 5% of these diseases. In the experiments published today, a proprietary bioinformatics analysis of RNA sequencing datasets was used to identify a variety of non-productive alternative-splicing events that lead to mRNA degradation and limit protein production. Stoke found 7,757 unique genes that contained at least one non-productive event, of which 16% (1,246) were associated with causing a specific disease.
A link to the publication, “Antisense oligonucleotide modulation of non-productive alternative splicing upregulates gene expression,” can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17093-9
Pre-mRNA Splicing and TANGO
Human cells naturally regulate protein production to maintain health. Pre-mRNA splicing, including alternative splicing, is an important mechanism used to regulate how much protein and which protein variant is produced. During splicing, introns are removed and exons are joined together to generate the mRNA template that carries the code to synthesize proteins. More than one third of alternative splicing events in mammals do not produce functional proteins and lead to mRNA degradation through nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). TANGO ASOs act at the pre-mRNA level and prevent non-productive alternative splicing so that the body produces more protein-coding mRNA and thus more protein. This approach is particularly applicable to diseases that are caused by insufficient protein production.
About Stoke Therapeutics
Stoke Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: STOK), is a biotechnology company pioneering a new way to treat the underlying causes of severe genetic diseases by precisely upregulating protein expression to restore target proteins to near normal levels. Stoke aims to develop the first precision medicine platform to target the underlying cause of a broad spectrum of genetic diseases in which the patient has one healthy copy of a gene and one mutated copy that fails to produce a protein essential to health. These diseases, in which loss of approximately 50% of normal protein expression causes disease, are called autosomal dominant haploinsufficiencies. The company’s lead investigational new medicine is STK-001, a proprietary antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) that has the potential to be the first disease-modifying therapy to address the genetic cause of Dravet syndrome, a severe and progressive genetic epilepsy. Stoke is headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts with offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit https://www.stoketherapeutics.com/ or follow the company on Twitter at @StokeTx.
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