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EpiGenie Reviews: RNA Interference and Viruses – Current Innovations and Future Trends

RNA interference (RNAi) was first discovered in 1998 and has sparked new innovations and novel research tools for biological research ever since. RNAi has the scientific community buzzing because of it’s huge potential to tackle some of our most dreaded viral infectious diseases, like hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). But there are still some major hurdles to clear before testing and treatment in actual human beings is a reality.

In RNA Interference and Viruses: Current Innovations and Future Trends, edited by Miguel Angel Martinez, RNAi experts contribute their thoughts and opinions on the field and review the latest info on RNAi-virus interactions, RNAi-based antiviral therapeutics and the role of RNAi in natural antiviral defense. Other chapters also cover; the efficacy and safety of RNAi-based antiviral drugs, RNAi technology development, and a glimpse into the road forward in future RNAi research. RNA Interference and Viruses cover 11 chapters, and here are previews of a few with interesting topics:

The Properties and Roles of Virus-encoded MicroRNAs

Mélanie Tanguy and Sébastien Pfeffer

Recently it was realized that viruses could encode micro (mi)RNAs, much like organisms they infect. This fact puts a whole new spin on the study of host-virus interactions, as more is learned both about miRNAs, as well as how viruses employ them. Some viruses, like the herpesvirus and polyomavirus families, have hijacked the miRNA mechanism to aid in the infection of the host organism. This chapter sums up what is known about viral miRNAs including: specific properties, viral and cellular targets, and the roles they play in infection. It seems that virally encoded miRNAs are a part of virtually every step of the virus life cycle.

RNAi Gene Therapy to Control HIV-1 Infection

Ben Berkhout and Olivier ter Brake

RNAi-based applications for gene silencing have made it into clinical trials, and the future of antiviral RNAi therapeutics has much promise. But for RNAi therapeutics to be successful, controls in must be woven into pre-clinical test-models that can guarantee the sequence specific function of the candidate RNAi molecules. In the case of HIV-1 infections, this is a very difficult and critical task as it would most likely require an combinatorial, RNAi-based gene therapy, as HIV-1 is highly escape-prone, making it very tough to attack with a single RNAi target.

RNAi Applications to Defeat Respiratory Viral Infections

Sailen Barik

Pathogenic respiratory viruses represent cause an awful lot of damage in terms of deaths, hospital admissions and treatment costs each year. Ailments like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza (Flu) and parainfluenza virus (PIV), avian flu virus, SARS coronavirus, and the henipaviruses are all highly pathogenic and lack an effective or reliable vaccine or antiviral. This is due, in part to the high mutation rate of viral RNA genomes, which has spurred the exploration into the adoption of novel RNA interference (RNAi) strategies. Summaries of recent RNAi developments designed to act as therapeutics against viral respiratory diseases are covered in this chapter.

The EpiGenie Verdict

RNA Interference and Viruses gives both a solid foundation of the general concepts behind RNAi, as well as delivering more advanced insights into the most recent breakthroughs in the field. As a comprehensive overview of the interplay between viruses and RNAi, this text would be essential for anyone; including students, academic researchers or drug development scientists looking to get up to speed on the future of RNA interference.

Grab a copy of RNA Interference and Viruses: Current Innovations and Future Trends at the Horizon Press website.