It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


SCI/TECH: Gene Regulator RNAi May Be the Ultimate Cure

page: 1

log in


posted on Jun, 21 2005 @ 12:41 PM
Scientists have found a possible medical use for a newly discovered property of some organisms to silence undesirable genes. RNA interference is the molecule responsible for this, a sort of genetic regulation in cells that fights mutation, and turns genes on and off during particular stages of development. It is now believed possible that diseases such as macular degeneration, Lou Gehrig's disease, HIV, and many others may be cured with this technology.
When the human genome was sequenced two years ago, researchers held the blueprint of a human being in their hands -- a nonsensical string of 3 billion DNA letters. But the project's promise of curing disease and explaining the workings of the human body would depend in part on a curious phenomenon first observed in microscopic worms and in petunias -- cells' natural ability to ''turn off" genes.

The tool, called RNA interference, or RNAi, is ubiquitous in biology laboratories, and in the span of just a few years has leapt from the journal Science's list of top-10 basic science breakthroughs in 2002 and 2003 literally into the eyes of its first patients. RNA interference, often called ''gene silencing," is like a genetic dimmer switch, a natural mechanism that allows a cell to regulate its genetic climate, turning one gene up during a crucial part of development, or turning another down, as a defense against mutations. Researchers are now harnessing the mechanism with the hope of crafting drugs that will turn off the genes essential for diseases like HIV, cancer, or influenza.

The first clinical trials of such drugs are in progress, testing whether RNAi is safe and could work in humans. Sirna testing a drug that uses tiny strands of RNA to shut down genes that trigger macular degeneration, an age-related disease that causes blindness. This month, the company presented the interim results of the first stages of clinical trial: In the 14 patients tested, the drug appeared effective and safe after a maximum of 157 days of follow up.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This is an amazing advance in medicine that I hope we'll see put to use in the future. The chances look good considering that the first clinical trial for treatment of macular degeneration was successful.

The market for this technology will be huge if it all works out. The article mentioned that we should see a $6 billion industry within the next decade, which is expected with the wide range of applications it has. Hopefully we'll be seeing it that soon, but there are also problems with the packaging of RNAi that we still have to overcome, as well as many more trials to ensure the treatment is safe.

[edit on 21-6-2005 by zhangmaster]

[edit on 21-6-2005 by zhangmaster]

posted on Jun, 22 2005 @ 06:58 PM
Wow.....very interesting. This is a very good find

It says in the article that RNAi was 'accidentally' observed when scientists tried to encourage the color of a flower by adding more of the 'purple gene.'

But the color of the flower inclined towards white.

Is the principle of the RNAi, then, such that you can predict the opposite physical reaction by encouraging a specific physical trait? Seems a bit simple, so I'm sure I'm misreading something..........

posted on Jun, 22 2005 @ 10:32 PM
Thanks MemoryShock. Rather than having the opposite reaction to an encouraged trait, what's happening is actually the silencing of an undesirable trait, and what seems to be the reinforcement of an existing trait. Honestly, this is the first time I've ever even heard of RNAi so I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the flower was responding to a 'genetic attack' or something. It fended off the attack by rejecting (well, silencing really) the undesirable trait, and built its defenses by reinforcing the existing trait.

If the opposite seemed to occur, then treatment in humans might be much more dangerous because we would be putting harmful genes in our DNA in the hopes that there would be a positive result. Instead, for humans, I guess that they would pinpoint the genes that are causing the disease and turn them off.

posted on Jun, 22 2005 @ 11:17 PM
Ahhh. I think I got it now. I guess it can be stated that RNAi is analogous to a vaccination......whereas a vaccine is really a diluted sample of a virus introduced in the organism in order to create a chemical recognition for future 'infections', specific rna is introduced to the genetic strain to create a genetic recognition that is manifested in subsequent duplications.

I can't say I understand the process 100% because I can't visualize the interactions, but I think I get the concept.......indeed,if this is a viable technique, then refinements of the process are probablt just a matter of trial and error....very exciting implications for the future of medicine as disease can be effected by the encouragement of stronger genetic representations, rather than the induction of foeign agents that add variables to the bio-equation.....the reason side effects occur is because most medicines are interacting with the entire body, even the healthy portions.......

Again, great find zhangmaster......I'm glad to see that this didn't fade ignomiously into ATSNN anonymity.......

posted on Jun, 23 2005 @ 07:53 AM
Terrific news, definitely up!

Genetic research is moving so fast it's hard to keep up with everything going on. Whatever the human geonome project cost, it was worth every cent. Efforts to document & map all the various proteins genes use to express themselves are already leading to promising new approaches to combat all kinds of illnesses. Check out the article that appeared in PhysOrg News yesterday.

Six days is all it takes for a common, non-disease-causing
virus to kill cervical, breast, prostate and squamous cell cancer
cells in laboratory cultures, according to Penn State College of
Medicine researchers.
Full story at

posted on Jun, 23 2005 @ 08:05 AM
I understood the article a bit differently than it being analogous to a vaccine.

often called ''gene silencing," is like a genetic dimmer switch, a natural mechanism that allows a cell to regulate its genetic climate

This sounds like gene therapy more than a vaccination. Its not introducing an undesirable gene in the hope the body builds its defences up against it. Its a deliberate modification of our cells to combat virus and diseases.

In a vaccination a small dose of the virus is introduced into the body and our own body creates its defence.

In this RNAi treatment our cells are directly modifed to combat a certain disease or virus.

Or so it seems from that article.

But as great as this breakthrough is my heart sank when I read the estimated revenue raised from this research. It reminds me of why this technology is coming, not for the advancement of science but for money.

The days of scientists being able to make breakthroughs for the advancement of mankind and for the prestige of their countries and themselves are gone for ever.

[edit on 23/6/05 by subz]

posted on Jun, 23 2005 @ 12:00 PM
I knew I was strecthing it with that analogy......thanks for the further explanation, subz.....

I agree that we're going to see problems due to the commercialisation of this technology and I would even go as far as to suggest that there are medical advancements that have and will be suppressed further.......indeed, I suspect that RNAi has been known for quite a bit and has probably been kept quiet until now, when an obligatory, "we think we got something," was released to fuel the hopes of many........

In my opinion, with the specialization of the population, you can get away with keeping the public mis/disinformed because it's debatable on whether or not they would know the difference.

posted on Jun, 23 2005 @ 12:02 PM
wow, very interesting article Astronomer68, I was just reading through it. This should be on ATSNN too!

posted on Jun, 23 2005 @ 02:50 PM

Originally posted by MemoryShock
IIn my opinion, with the specialization of the population, you can get away with keeping the public mis/disinformed because it's debatable on whether or not they would know the difference.

That's the tactic used by the tobacco industry a few years ago and the current tactic of the chemical industry--and I sure would not put it past the giant drug companies.

Be my guest Zhangmaster--post it.

[edit on 23-6-2005 by Astronomer68]

posted on Jun, 23 2005 @ 04:49 PM
haha, sure, I have time tonight so I'll put it on and see how the story fares Astronomer.

new topics

top topics


log in