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RNA Drugs

February 19, 2007

A new drug may work by silencing the genes of viruses and other disease-causing agents.


Blocking the genes that cause disease. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A new kind of drug may fight viruses and other causes of disease by silencing their genes. The key ingredient is small interfering RNA, a molecule that can block specific genes from making proteins. At the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Judy Lieberman of Harvard Medical School said such drugs would have broad potential.

JUDY LIEBERMAN ( Harvard Medical School):
Since the machinery for RNA interference exists in all cells, this natural pathway can be used to silence any gene that might be involved in disease.

In animal studies, Lieberman’s team found a way to get interfering RNA into infected cells, without affecting healthy cells. Now, she and her colleagues are working on RNA therapies for a respiratory virus, pandemic flu, and even high cholesterol.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.