There are a variety of therapies that have been developed till present day to help treat disease and infection. Some of these therapies include, drugs, antibody, ultrasound, and many more. One new treatment that is currently being developed is the use of siRNA technology. Since its discovery, siRNA technology has been only used in research for cells to study proteins and their function. Researchers are now trying to enhance and fine tune siRNA technology, so that it could potentially be used as a therapy for treating disease and infection.
Many proteins in humans are mutated because the DNA information to make the protein is disrupted. These alterations can lead to changes in the protein function. Proteins that function differently than from their normal state can cause problems in how a cell functions, leading to many types of diseases, such as cancer. If certain proteins are important for cell survival, hypothetically speaking, using siRNA against important proteins, may ultimately change the fate of cancer cells. Thus using this technology along with protein research helps scientists tounderstand what is going on in certain cancer types.
In the research article, Therapeutic potential of RNA interference against cancer by Fumitaka Takeshita and Takahiro Ochiya, the researchers used siRNA technology to treat cancer. The researchers used mice that contained tumor cells as their research model. They have shown that through direct injection to the tumor site in mice or indirect injection through the bloodstream, they were able to successfully target and reduce the growth of the tumor cells by 80% - 90%. This gives researchers another potential tool in helping to conquer cancer, but further research and testing is required for this type of technology before it can be readily available for medical use.
What makes this technology especially useful is that not everyone’s cancer is identical and can be designed to treat patient specific cancers. People with cancer on the same organs can have differences in the DNA mutations, which may result in the same protein but altering the protein’s function. Using siRNA, specific genetics codes can be designed that configure towards the genetic differences in the individuals for their specific altered protein. siRNA technology, which was known for its important use in understanding protein function in cells, may become an important therapy to treat cancer in the mere future.
Takeshita, F., & Ochiya, T. (2006). Therapeutic potential of RNA interference against cancer. Cancer Science, 97(8), 689–96. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1349-7006.2006.00234.x