In a recent issue of Nature Medicine, Li et al. report on a new approach to coping with emerging infectious diseases, that uses small interfering (si)RNAs, with which they successfully treated SARS-CoV-infected Rhesus macaques.
To date, RNAi approaches have been widely used in studies of human diseases including cancers, neurogenerative and viral infectious diseases. Recent work has also shown that selected siRNAs can effectively inhibit SARS-CoV replication in cultured cells. However, previously, RNAi-inhibition of SARS had not been shown in animal models. This new study provided, for the first time, the evidence that siRNAs have a significant effect on suppression of SARS-like symptoms in a macaque model. The authors' results indicated that the SARS-CoV-infected monkeys had attenuated SARS-like symptoms when the animals were treated with siRNA duplexes. More importantly, this approach was shown to be effective both prophylactically and therapeutically with no adverse effects.
This study demonstrated a novel strategy to mitigate SARS and this approach may be applicable to combating other emerging infectious diseases caused by viruses.
Z. Chang and J. Hu
Institute of Biomedicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.
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