Harnessing RNA interference to develop neonatal therapies: From Nobel Prize winning discovery to proof of concept clinical trials

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Abstract

A revolution in the understanding of RNA biological processing and control is leading to revolutionary new concepts in human therapeutics. It has become increasingly clear that the so called "non-coding RNA" exerts specific and profound functional control on regulation of protein production and indeed controls the expression of all genes. Harnessing this naturally-occurring RNA-mediated regulation of protein production has immense human therapeutic potential. These processes are collectively known as RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi is a recently discovered, naturally-occurring intracellular process that regulates gene expression through the silencing of specific mRNAs. Methods of harnessing this natural pathway are being developed that allow the catalytic degradation of targeted mRNAs using specifically designed complementary small inhibitory RNAs (siRNA). siRNAs are being chemically modified to acquire drug-like properties. Numerous recent high profile publications have provided proofs of concept that RNA interference may be useful therapeutically. Much of the design of these siRNAs can be accomplished bioinformatically, thus potentially expediting drug discovery and opening new avenues of therapy for many uncommon, orphan, or emerging diseases. This makes this approach very attractive for developing therapies targeting orphan diseases including neonatal diseases. Theoretically, any disease that can be ameliorated through knockdown of any endogenous or exogenous protein is a potential therapeutic target for RNAi-based therapeutics. Lung diseases are particularly attractive targets for RNAi therapeutics since the affected cells' location increases their accessibility to topical administration of siRNA, for example by aerosol. Respiratory viral infections and chronic lung disease are examples of such diseases. RNAi therapeutics have been shown to be active against RSV, parainfluenza and human metapneumoviruses in vitro and in vivo resulting in profound antiviral effects. The first proof of concept test of efficacy of an RNAi-based therapeutic in man has been initiated. A discussion of the science behind RNA interference is followed by a presentation of the potential practical issues in applying this technology to neonatal respiratory viral diseases. RNAi may offer new strategies for the treatment of a variety of orphan diseases including neonatal diseases, RSV infections, and other respiratory viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEarly Human Development
Volume85
Issue number10 SUPPL.
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Fingerprint

Nobel Prize
RNA Interference
Clinical Trials
Infant, Newborn, Diseases
RNA
Therapeutics
Virus Diseases
Rare Diseases
Respiratory Tract Infections
Lung Diseases
Metapneumovirus
Gene Expression
Paramyxoviridae Infections
Topical Administration
Untranslated RNA
Proteins
Orphaned Children
RNA Stability
Drug Discovery
Aerosols

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

Cite this

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abstract = "A revolution in the understanding of RNA biological processing and control is leading to revolutionary new concepts in human therapeutics. It has become increasingly clear that the so called {"}non-coding RNA{"} exerts specific and profound functional control on regulation of protein production and indeed controls the expression of all genes. Harnessing this naturally-occurring RNA-mediated regulation of protein production has immense human therapeutic potential. These processes are collectively known as RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi is a recently discovered, naturally-occurring intracellular process that regulates gene expression through the silencing of specific mRNAs. Methods of harnessing this natural pathway are being developed that allow the catalytic degradation of targeted mRNAs using specifically designed complementary small inhibitory RNAs (siRNA). siRNAs are being chemically modified to acquire drug-like properties. Numerous recent high profile publications have provided proofs of concept that RNA interference may be useful therapeutically. Much of the design of these siRNAs can be accomplished bioinformatically, thus potentially expediting drug discovery and opening new avenues of therapy for many uncommon, orphan, or emerging diseases. This makes this approach very attractive for developing therapies targeting orphan diseases including neonatal diseases. Theoretically, any disease that can be ameliorated through knockdown of any endogenous or exogenous protein is a potential therapeutic target for RNAi-based therapeutics. Lung diseases are particularly attractive targets for RNAi therapeutics since the affected cells' location increases their accessibility to topical administration of siRNA, for example by aerosol. Respiratory viral infections and chronic lung disease are examples of such diseases. RNAi therapeutics have been shown to be active against RSV, parainfluenza and human metapneumoviruses in vitro and in vivo resulting in profound antiviral effects. The first proof of concept test of efficacy of an RNAi-based therapeutic in man has been initiated. A discussion of the science behind RNA interference is followed by a presentation of the potential practical issues in applying this technology to neonatal respiratory viral diseases. RNAi may offer new strategies for the treatment of a variety of orphan diseases including neonatal diseases, RSV infections, and other respiratory viruses.",
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