Published online Aug 15, 2003. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v9.i8.1657
Revised: April 23, 2003
Accepted: May 11, 2003
Published online: August 15, 2003
RNA interference (RNAi) is a remarkable type of gene regulation based on sequence-specific targeting and degradation of RNA. The term encompasses related pathways found in a broad range of eukaryotic organisms, including fungi, plants, and animals. RNA interference is part of a sophisticated network of interconnected pathways for cellular defense, RNA surveillance, and development and it may become a powerful tool to manipulate gene expression experimentally. RNAi technology is currently being evaluated not only as an extremely powerful instrument for functional genomic analyses, but also as a potentially useful method to develop specific dsRNA based gene-silencing therapeutics. Several laboratories have been interested in using RNAi to control viral infection and many reports in Nature and in Cell show that short interfering (si) RNAs can inhibit infection by HIV-1, polio and hepatitis C viruses in a sequence-specific manner. RNA-based strategies for gene inhibition in mammalian cells have recently been described, which offer the promise of antiviral therapy.