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Curr Opin Mol Ther. 2004 Aug;6(4):373-80.

HIV-1-specific RNA interference.

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Brown Medical School, Laboratory of Retrovirology, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Providence, RI 02903, USA.


The preclinical development of RNA interference (RNAi) as a novel therapeutic agent for HIV-1 infection is reviewed. RNAi refers to the sequence-specific degradation of RNA that follows the cellular introduction of homologous, short-interfering RNA (siRNA). RNAi has emerged as a powerful tool to probe the function of genes of known sequence in vitro and in vivo. Advances in vector design permit the effective expression of siRNA in human cells by transfer of short hairpin RNA expression cassettes. Recent investigations have described the ability of RNAi to decrease the replication of HIV-1 in lymphocytic cells using siRNA targeting viral (eg, Tat, Gag and Rev) and host (eg, CCR5 and CD4) proteins. Can RNAi be used as a form of genetic therapy for HIV-1 and associated infections? There are numerous challenges associated with converting RNAi from a laboratory technique to an antiviral therapeutic. Recent research on the cellular delivery, antiviral durability and gene-silencing specificity of HIV-1-specific RNAi is reviewed.

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