siRNA-based approaches in cancer therapy.
The availability of the human genome sequence has revolutionized the strategy of employing nucleic acids with sequences complementary to specific target genes to improve drug discovery and target validation. Development of sequence-specific DNA or RNA analogs that can block the activity of selected single-stranded genetic sequences offers the possibility of rational design with high specificity, lacking in many current drug treatments for various diseases including cancer, at relatively inexpensive costs. Antisense technology is one such example that has shown promising results and boasts of yielding the only approved drug to date in the genomics field. However, in vivo delivery issues have yet to be completely overcome for widespread clinical applications. In contrast to antisense oligonucleotides, the mechanism of silencing an endogenous gene by the introduction of a homologous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), transgene or virus is called post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) or RNA interference. PTGS is a natural mechanism whereby metazoan cells suppress expansion of genes when they come across dsRNA molecules with the same sequence. Short interfering RNA is currently the fastest growing sector of this antigene field for target validation and therapeutic applications. Although, in theory, the development of genomics-based agents to inhibit gene expression is simple and straightforward, the fundamental concern relies upon the capacity of the oligonucleotide to gain access to the target RNA. This paper summarizes the advances in the last decade in the field of PTGS using RNA interference approaches and provides relevant comparisons with other oligonucleotide-based approaches with a specific focus on oncology applications.
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