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May 15, 2006

New Findings Strengthen 'RNA Interference' Technology In Fight Against Cancer

Topics: Medicine
I11-38-RNAi.jpg

(How RNAi suppresses gene expression - click to enlarge)

Although the issue is a bit on the technical side, of great importance is the discovery that genes can be silenced by injecting short strands of RNA into cells - a process known as RNA interference or RNAi - has revolutionized biological research. Experiments that once took months or years are now done in days or weeks. RNAi technology is hailed as the greatest medical advancement since antibiotics, with the potential to cut out the genes that cause diseases such as cancer, yet most laboratories and drug companies working on cancer today use RNAi to identify cancer genes and to investigate the underlying biology of the disease. A major obstacle for translating this RNAi technology from a just a research tool into a usable therapeutic strategy remains the efficient delivery of these small molecules to the targeted cell type in vivo. This may now be changing.

According to newly published research, scientists at Atugen, a German-based firm, have successfully used RNA interference (RNAi) technology to reduce tumour growth and spread by developing a functional delivery system for in-vivo applications:

(...) RNAi technology has so far been used to silence several of the critical gene products involved in carcinogenesis, which has generated significant antiproliferative and/or proapoptotic effects in many cell-culture systems and preclinical animal models. However, a major obstacle for translating this RNAi technology from a mere research tool into a realistic therapeutic strategy remains the efficient delivery of these small molecules to the targeted cell type in vivo.

(...) Atugen's scientists now claim that using its new siRNA-lipoplex (AtuPLEX) technology, they have uncovered the requirement of siRNA formulation to allow functional cellular uptake and delivery in vivo after intravenous administration.

(...) Although other significant obstacles such as incomplete suppression of target genes, nonspecific immune responses and the so-called off-target effects, need to be overcome before this RNAi technology can be successfully translated into the clinical arena, much progress is being made, and these latest findings represent a significant advancement.

(...) The development of new RNAi-based therapeutics and their entry into early phase clinical trials can be now expected in the very near future.

Read more...

Posted by Richard at May 15, 2006 10:52 AM



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