For the first time, large-scale information on the biochemical makeup of small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules is available publicly. These molecules are used in research to help scientists better understand how genes function in disease. Making these data accessible to researchers worldwide increases the potential of finding new treatments for patients.
NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) collaborated with Life Technologies Corporation of Carlsbad, Calif., which owns the siRNA information, to make it available to all researchers.
The siRNA molecules, which can selectively inhibit the activity of genes, are used in RNA interference (RNAi) research. RNAi is a natural process that cells use to control the activity of specific genes. Its discovery led to the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Last month, a team of NIH scientists, led by Richard Youle, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and Scott Martin, Ph.D., at NCATS, used RNAi to find genes that linked to Parkinson's disease, a devastating movement disorder. The new genes may represent new starting points for developing treatments. The study results were published online in the Nov. 24, 2013, issue of Nature.
Scientists have harnessed the power of RNAi to study the function of many individual genes by reducing their activity levels, or silencing them. This process enables researchers to identify genes and molecules that are linked to particular diseases. To do this, researchers use siRNAs, which are RNA molecules that have a complementary chemical makeup, or sequence, to that of a targeted gene. While the gene is silenced, researchers look for changes in cell functions to gain insights about what it normally does. By silencing genes in the cell one at a time, scientists can explore and understand their complex relation to other genes in the context of disease.
Until now, a major
|Contact: NCATS Communications|
NIH/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)