Annual Meeting of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society 2018 in Seattle

From the 30th of September until the 3rd of October the Annual Meeting of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society took place in Seattle to discuss and present new developments and success in the field of RNAi, antisense-oligonucleotides, CRISPR/Cas, miRNA and related topics. The talks were held by renowned scientists with different backgrounds, from chemistry to medicine every field was represented, so the presentations showed a broad spectrum of approaches and perspectives on oligonucleotide therapy and their future in applied sciences.

Hot topic of the meeting and of special importance also for the Collagen-VI project in ICG, was the strategies to deliver oligonucleotide therapeutics to their target tissues and cells in vivo. Andrew J. Geall from Avidity Biosciences presented some impressive data about delivering antibody-conjugated siRNAs to muscle tissue and achieving an over 90% knockdown of a muscle specific gene with this technique. This approach could further the development of RNAi in muscular dystrophies and related diseases and was especially interesting for the project I am working on.

Also, oligonucleotide therapeutics can be applied to various cardiac diseases. A known example for these applications is Inclisiran, which inhibits the synthesis of PCSK9 via RNAi and has already reached Phase III clinical trials. It is indicated for patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease to lower LDL-blood levels and was compared from the presenter Clive Meanwell to a kind of flu-shot, an atherosclerosis-shot, respectively, which could be an annual intervention for patients at risk. Another interesting approach was presented by Anna Collén from AstraZeneca, who showed the benefits of an epicardial injection of the angiogenetic VEGF-A on the outcome of post-myocardial infarction patients.
Finally, the Poster Session, in which I participated with the poster “Antisense-induced mRNA knockdown as a treatment strategy for collagen VI myopathy”, turned out to be an enriching evening with lots of spirited discussions.

Apart from the scientific part, I was happy to use my time outside the conference to explore the city of Seattle and even visit some of the beautiful nature of Washington. Seattle is this decade’s fastest growing city in the United States, very progressive, and, to my joy, well known for its great coffee culture. The city’s close proximity to the sea as well as to the mountains (Mount Rainier, to mention the most known one) add up to a great cityscape and made me feel very comfortable during the whole week.

I came back to Lübeck with lots of new inspiration and ideas and I am looking forward to return to my work on the Collagen-VI project after such a motivating week in Seattle.