The first therapeutic nucleic acid, a DNA oligonucleotide, was approved for clinical use in 1998. Twenty years later, in 2018, the first therapeutic RNA-based oligonucleotide was United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. This promises to be a rapidly expanding market, as many emerging biopharmaceutical companies are developing RNA interference (RNAi)-based, and RNA-based antisense oligonucleotide therapies. However, miRNA therapeutics are noticeably absent. miRNAs are regulatory RNAs that regulate gene expression. In disease states, the expression of many miRNAs is measurably altered. The potential of miRNAs as therapies and therapeutic targets has long been discussed and in the context of a wide variety of infections and diseases. Despite the great number of studies identifying miRNAs as potential therapeutic targets, only a handful of miRNA-targeting drugs (mimics or inhibitors) have entered clinical trials. In this review, we will discuss whether the investment in finding potential miRNA therapeutic targets has yielded feasible and practicable results, the benefits and obstacles of miRNAs as therapeutic targets, and the potential future of the field.
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