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Welcome Interference

New approach to silencing genes in the central nervous system

25 September 2019

Welcome Interference

With an excited puppy, being able to calm it down is essential to keeping things under control. In the same way, hyperactive genes – the molecular starting points for all the material in our body – sometimes need subduing. One of the body’s tools for this is RNA interference – a trick that uses strands of RNA (genetic material similar to DNA) to quell gene expression. Researchers looking to replicate that technique use ‘small interfering RNA’ (siRNA), but have so far been limited to certain areas of the body. Now a new approach has modified their structure to make them linger longer when introduced to the brain (shown here in red within the blue-stained hippocampus cells of a non-human primate). Injected siRNAs blocked the activity of huntingtin in mice, the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, raising hopes that this approach to genetic tinkering will lead to new treatments for neurological disorders.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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