Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scientists devise powerful algorithm to improve effectiveness of research technology harnessing RNAi

In continuation of my update on RNAi

Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have devised a powerful algorithm that improves the effectiveness of an important research technology harnessing RNA interference, or RNAi.

Discovered in the late 1990s, RNAi is a naturally occurring biological mechanism in which short RNA molecules bind to and "interfere" with messages sent by genes that contain instructions for protein production. Such interference can prevent a gene from being expressed. In addition to helping regulate gene expression, the RNAi pathway in many species, including humans, acts to defend the genome from parasitic viruses and transposons.

Harnessed by scientists since the mid-2000s, RNAi has provided a way to artificially "knock down" the expression of specific genes. By preventing a gene or genes from being activated in a model organism such as a mouse, for instance, much can be learned by inference about gene function. RNAi-based technology also has been extremely useful as tool in drug discovery.

No comments: