The gene silencing technology showcased in the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is on an amazingly fast track toward use in treating a variety of serious diseases, according to an article scheduled for the Nov. 13 issue of the ACS's weekly newsmagazine, Chemical & Engineering News.
Much has happened to RNA interference (RNAi) technology in the eight years since discovery of this natural method for blocking the expression of specific genes, writes C&EN senior editor Celia Henry Arnaud.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, RNAi-based treatments have gone into clinical trials for a common eye disease (age-related macular degeneration) and a viral infection of the lungs. Big pharma is confident that RNAi will find other uses, as evidenced by Merck's move in October to spend $1.1 billion in acquiring a company specializing in RNAi therapeutics.
The article explains that expanding the medical uses of RNAi depends on development of new systems for delivering so-called small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to other parts of the body.
Researchers are making progress on those delivery systems, with the first clinical trials of RNAi-packaged in delivery systems -- for cancer and hepatitis C -- possible in 2007.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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