Let’s Not Get All Excited

By | August 31, 2010
Intermediate magnification micrograph of hepat...

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It sounds pretty exciting when you first start reading it, but when you get to the bottom you realize that there might less to this than meets the eye.

It all sounds plausible enough — use RNA interference to knock out liver cancer by depriving tumors of the ability to to make proteins. No more proteins, no more cells. No more cells, no more tumor…get it? This is a new kind of warfare. Instead of sending in troops to engage the enemy one by one, we’re sending in Special Ops to cut off their supply lines. Starve the bastards.

The technique’s ability to attack single genes could lead to drugs for the 75 percent of cancer genes that lack any specific treatment, as well as for other illnesses. Alnylam is already testing RNAi therapy for Huntington’s disease and high cholesterol in cell cultures; other researchers are tackling macular degeneration, muscular dystrophy and HIV. The potential has driven nearly every major pharmaceutical company to start an RNAi program.

Wow, the cure for everything! Can I get two bottles? But wait:

“I think RNAi could work for anything,” [John] Rossi [a molecular geneticist at City of Hope National Medical Center in California] says. “But even if it only works for liver cancer, it would be pretty good.”

See, this is how they get you. Just a cure for liver cancer. Ha. Who needs that?

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