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Alnylam and Stanford University Scientists Discover New Role for,microRNAs (miRNAs) in T Cell Biology and Immunity

i, is a naturally occurring mechanism within cells for selectively silencing and regulating specific genes. The discovery of RNAi has been widely acknowledged as a major breakthrough in biology, and the technology was recognized for its potential broad impact in medicine with the award of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Since many diseases are caused by the inappropriate activity of specific genes, the ability to silence genes selectively through RNAi could provide a new way to treat a wide range of human diseases. RNAi is induced by small, double-stranded RNA molecules. One method to activate RNAi is with chemically synthesized small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, which are double-stranded RNAs that are targeted to a specific disease-associated gene. The siRNA molecules are used by the natural RNAi machinery in cells to cause targeted gene silencing.

About microRNA (miRNA)

RNAi can also be induced by microRNAs, or miRNAs, that occur naturally within all mammalian cells. The miRNA molecules are encoded by the cell's own genes, giving rise to small RNA molecules that are similar in structure to siRNAs. There are believed to be over 250 confirmed miRNA genes in the human genome and there are many other predicted miRNAs. miRNAs are thought to work through RNAi to regulate the activity of an estimated one-third of genes in the genome. The inappropriate absence or presence of specific miRNA molecules in various cells has been shown to be associated with specific human diseases, including cancer and viral infections.

About Alnylam

Alnylam is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics based on RNA interference, or RNAi. The company is applying its therapeutic expertise in RNAi to address significant medical needs, many of which cannot effectively be addressed with small molecules or antibodies, the current major classes of drugs. Alnylam is building a pipeline of RNAi therapeutics; its lead program is in Phase I hum
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