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Silencing gene expression for cancer therapy through nanotechnology

Silencing the expression of specific genes would be very useful medically, and perhaps the most interesting method of doing so to have emerged recently is through the use of small interfering RNA (siRNA). The most significant challenge to using siRNA medically is how to get it inside specific cells, and a number of approaches are based on nanotechnology. For a review of three recent advances in using nanoparticles for siRNA anticancer therapy, provided by the National Cancer Institute’s Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer: “Anticancer siRNA Therapy Advances, Thanks to Nanoparticles“:

Small pieces of nucleic acid, known as siRNAs (short interfering RNAs), can turn off the production of specific proteins, a property that makes them one of the more promising new classes of anticancer drugs in development. Indeed, at least two siRNA-based anticancer therapies, both delivered to tumors in nanoparticles, have begun human clinical trials. Now, three new reports highlight the progress that researchers are making in developing broadly applicable, nanoparticle-enabled siRNA anticancer therapeutics.

In the first report, Mark E. Davis, Ph.D., an investigator in the Nanosystems Biology Cancer Center at the California Institute of Technology, and former graduate student Derek Bartlett, Ph.D., now at the City of Hope, used mathematical modeling and results from dosing experiments in a mouse model of human cancer to explain therapeutic response with various dosing regimes for both targeted and untargeted siRNA-containing nanoparticles…

—Jim

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