Research

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2013

 

October 16, 2013

How do you stop an aggressive breast cancer? Keep it from recycling

By Tom Ulrich

When the drug Velcade® came on the market in 2003, it was seen as a godsend for patients with multiple myeloma, an intractable blood cancer that until then was uniformly fatal. Velcade was the first in a novel family of drugs called proteasome blockers, which make it hard for cancer cells to break down and recycle used, misfolded or excess proteins.

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March 26, 2013

RNA interference: Putting bacteria to work to silence genes

By Tom Ulrich

The Lieberman Lab reported important progress in producing the RNAs that inhibit gene synthesis.

If you are a scientist and you want to turn off a gene, one option that's been gaining traction is RNA interference (or RNAi). In this molecular process-first discovered in plants and only 12 years ago detected in mammals-bits of RNA called small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) cancel out a gene's messenger RNA, effectively muffling that gene. Labs can order custom-made, chemically synthesized siRNAs for just about any DNA sequence they want to silence. The tricky part is deciding what the right sequence is-especially when that gene is part of a virus, where genes can mutate pretty quickly. However, a biotechnology approach to producing siRNAs could make it relatively easy for just about any lab that can master recombinant DNA technologies to make a number of siRNAs against multiple sequences within the same target gene: a potential bonus for companies seeking to make drugs that rely on RNAi.


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