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Mol Ther. 2005 Sep;12(3):562-8.

Small hairpin RNAs efficiently inhibit hepatitis C IRES-mediated gene expression in human tissue culture cells and a mouse model.

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Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, Department of Radiology, and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Treatment and prevention of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections remain a major challenge for controlling this worldwide health problem; existing therapies are only partially effective and no vaccine is currently available. RNA interference offers the potential of a novel therapeutic approach for treating HCV infections. Toward this end, we evaluated small hairpin interfering RNAs (shRNAs) targeting the conserved internal ribosome entry site (IRES) element of the HCV genome for their ability to control gene expression in human cells and animals. We used a reporter gene plasmid in which firefly luciferase (fLuc) expression is dependent on the HCV IRES. Direct delivery of HCV IRES shRNAs efficiently blocked HCV IRES-mediated fLuc expression in transfected human 293FT cells as well as in a mouse model in which nucleic acids were delivered to liver cells by hydrodynamic transfection via the tail vein. These results indicate that shRNAs, delivered as RNA or expressed from viral or nonviral vectors, may be effective agents for the control of HCV and related viruses.

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