A powerful technique for silencing the expression of genes has successfully prevented liver injury and death in mice infected with hepatitis, according to a study reported in the March issue of Nature Medicine.
The technique, known as RNA interferernce or RNAi, had been unproven in preventing and treating disease in live animals.
Researchers used RNAi to silence the gene known as Fas, which is implicated in a wide array of liver diseases, including autoimmune, viral and transplant rejection hepatitis.
The mice involved in the experiment either received intravenous injections of inhibitory RNA against the gene Fas or received no treatment.
Eighty-two percent of the mice treated survived during the 10 days that they were observed by researchers. All of the mice that did not receive the injections died within 3 days.
Silencing Fas expression with RNAi holds therapeutic promise to prevent liver injury by protecting hepatocytes from cytotoxicity, concluded the researchers.
Other sources: Nature Medicine, Volume 9 Number 3 pp 347 - 351