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Myotonic dystrophy type 1 is a debilitating neuromuscular disease causing muscle weakness, myotonia, and cardiac dysfunction. The phenotypes are caused by muscleblind-like (MBNL) protein sequestration by toxic RNA in the DM1 protein kinase (DMPK) gene. DM1 patients exhibit a pathogenic number of repetitions in DMPK, which leads to downstream symptoms. Another disease characteristic is altered microRNA (miRNA) expression. It was previously shown that miR-23b regulates the translation of MBNL1 into protein. Antisense oligonucleotide (AON) treatment targeting this miRNA can improve disease symptoms. Here, we present a refinement of this strategy targeting a miR-23b binding site on the MBNL1 3' UTR in DM1 model cells and mice by using AONs called blockmiRs. BlockmiRs linked to novel cell-penetrating peptide chemistry showed an increase in MBNL1 protein in DM1 model cells and HSALR mice. They also showed an increase in muscle strength and significant rescue of downstream splicing and histological phenotypes in mice without disturbing the endogenous levels of other miR-23b target transcripts.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Ther Nucleic Acids

Publication Date





1146 - 1155


CPPs, antisense oligonucleotides, blockmiRs, miR-23b, muscleblind, myotonic dystrophy