Brona McVittie reports :: August 2008

Epigenetic research reveals three major players in silencing genes: DNA methylation, histone modification and RNA interference (see The Three Pillars). The latter is now a burgeoning research field in its own right, in fact, to the point where new therapeutic possibilities are emerging. In a mini-review, Cell this month highlights epigenetic strategies for HIV therapy. Researchers have hi-jacked protein synthesis by HIV in mouse models using a combination of antibodies and siRNAs.   

While epigenetic therapeutics is a serious research initiative, it takes years to develop and approve any drug. In addition, most of the 20 HIV/AIDS drugs already approved for clinical use are highly effective. So it’s not likely that siRNA-based drugs will become a viable alternative to antiretroviral therapy, although they could come in useful for treating individuals with resistant HIV strains.

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