Many diseases already have been linked to specific genes that are mutated or turned on to cause the illness. How those genes actually cause the illness is less clear, but by using shRNA to turn the genes off, researchers can study specific genetic function and start to identify drugs or therapeutics to change it.
The system, which uses "deep sequencing" technology to rapidly uncover effective shRNAs by simultaneously sequencing millions of base pairs of DNA, also enables scientists to better identify which of those tiny RNA-strands is most effective in turning off a particular gene and which ones are effective but also cause side effects on untargeted genes.
Research into gene function has been done for years with worms and fruit flies, whose short life spans and rapid reproduction make genetic testing relatively inexpensive, McManus said. But in mammals, studying the function of individual genes can often cost a laboratory $100,000 or more in basic materials and require complex technology to run.
The UCSF shRNA library aims to offer more than 600,000 different samples of shRNA roughly 30 for every human gene. Once the shRNA library is complete for the human genome, the team will continue creating libraries for other species.
McManus said he plans to make shRNA libraries available through the UCSF Sandler Lentiviral RNAi Core, which he directs. The Core provides essential equipment, training, supervision, and monitoring for researchers working in lentiviral-based research, as well as offering viral packaging and other services for researchers.
|Contact: Kristen Bole|
University of California - San Francisco