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Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2006 Jun;78(2):150-71.

RNAi and microRNAs: from animal models to disease therapy.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Norway.


The discovery of the phenomenon of RNA interference (RNAi) and its existence in mammals quickly suggested a great potential for use in disease therapy. Rapid advances have been made in the development of RNAi-based technologies and promising results have been obtained from studies on mammalian cell culture systems and animal in vivo models. However, the progress in our understanding of the RNAi pathway and the related function of microRNAs (miRNAs) have also raised concerns regarding various types of side effects that may restrict the use of this technology in human therapy. At the same time, our new knowledge about the functional roles of miRNAs as regulators of many cellular processes, including proliferation, differentiation, development, and neuronal function, is revolutionizing cell biology and will have a major impact on medical research. In this review, we focus on the discoveries that have been made in animal models and how this insight can be translated to human medicine and disease therapy. In this connection, we will particularly discuss the challenges associated with the efforts to develop RNAi-based therapeutics.

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