Nature Medicine reports that small interfering RNAs, short RNA sequences that can inhibit gene expression, are effective against infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus in monkeys.
In 2003, the SARS virus spread through the world, causing lethal pneumonia and lung failure. Since then, the search for therapies against this pathogen has been a very active research field. Now, Patrick Lu and his colleagues show that siRNA can both prevent the onset of SARS and cure an existing infection in macaques.
The authors delivered the siRNA intranasally to groups of macaques before or after infection with the SARS virus. They found that the siRNA provided relief from the symptoms of SARS infection and reduced the virus-induced lung damage with no apparent side effects.
These results constitute the first successful therapeutic use of siRNA in primates, and significantly boost up the potential of this tool to prevent and treat SARS in people.
Patrick Lu (Intradigm Corporation, Rockville, MD, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza