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Yale J Biol Med. 2012 Jun;85(2):187-200. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

Therapeutic siRNA: principles, challenges, and strategies.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a remarkable endogenous regulatory pathway that can bring about sequence-specific gene silencing. If harnessed effectively, RNAi could result in a potent targeted therapeutic modality with applications ranging from viral diseases to cancer. The major barrier to realizing the full medicinal potential of RNAi is the difficulty of delivering effector molecules, such as small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), in vivo. An effective delivery strategy for siRNAs must address limitations that include poor stability and non-targeted biodistribution, while protecting against the stimulation of an undesirable innate immune response. The design of such a system requires rigorous understanding of all mechanisms involved. This article reviews the mechanistic principles of RNA interference, its potential, the greatest challenges for use in biomedical applications, and some of the work that has been done toward engineering delivery systems that overcome some of the hurdles facing siRNA-based therapeutics.


RNA interference; chemical modification; delivery; liposome; nanoparticle; siRNA; targeting; therapeutics

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