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RNA INTERFERENCE (RNAi)

RNAi is a gene silencing technology that inhibits protein synthesis in target cells using double-stranded RNA. Same result is achieved by Antisense technology through single-stranded RNA.

  • RNAi technologies are now known to formulate drugs capable of reducing cholesterol levels by half. The technology also finds immense importance in treating acute viral infections like acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS),  because of the well-studied life cycle and pattern of gene expression of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Promising results have been shown by Antisense technology in producing a variety of tomato with increased shelf-life commonly known as Flavr Savr.
  • It can be said that, in the near future, antisense technology could be used in targeting cancer.

Constraints hampering the growth of these technologies in India:

  • Very few companies working with these technologies in India.
  • Poor translation of this nucleic-acid based therapy to clinical studies.
  • Lack of efficient and targeted delivery vehicles for these potential RNA molecules. Though this is one of the objectives of a stand-alone programme on nano-biotechnology under department of biotechnology, research gaps continue to exist.
  • The relatively minimal development of silencing reagents that ensure significant, specific, consistent and lasting knockdown of the target gene.

Extras:

Gene Silencing Technique

  • Gene silencing is a technique that aims to reduce or eliminate the production of a protein from its corresponding gene.
  • It generally describe the “switching off” of a gene by a mechanism other than genetic modification
  • It occurs when RNA is unable to make a protein during translation (gene expression).
  • In the groundnut case, the researchers designed two small RNA molecules that silence the fungal genes which produce aflatoxin.
  • When the fungus and plant come in contact with each other the small RNA molecules from the plant enter the fungus and prevent it from producing aflatoxin (protein) by its corresponding gene.
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September 2022
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