RNA Interference: Its Use as Antiviral Therapy

  • J. Haasnoot
  • B. Berkhout
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 173)


RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific gene-silencing mechanism that has been proposed to function as a defence mechanism of eukaryotic cells against viruses and transposons. RNAi was first observed in plants in the form of a mysterious immune response to viral pathogens. But RNAi is more than just a response to exogenous genetic material. Small RNAs termed microRNA (miRNA) regulate cellular gene expression programs to control diverse steps in cell development and physiology. The discovery that exogenously delivered short interfering RNA (siRNA) can trigger RNAi in mammalian cells has made it into a powerful technique for generating genetic knock-outs. It also raises the possibility to use RNAi technology as a therapeutic tool against pathogenic viruses. Indeed, inhibition of virus replication has been reported for several human pathogens including human immunodeficiency virus, the hepatitis B and C viruses and influenza virus. We reviewed the field of antiviral RNAi research in 2003 (Haasnoot et al. 2003), but many new studies have recently been published. In this review, we present a complete listing of all antiviral strategies published up to and including December 2004. The latest developments in the RNAi field and their antiviral application are described.


RNA interference siRNA shRNA RISC Virus Antiviral therapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Haasnoot
    • 1
  • B. Berkhout
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Retrovirology, Academic Medical CentreUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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