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RNAi - A new chance for gene therapy?

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Public panel discussion on ethical aspects of RNAi-based gene therapy
3rd December 2007, Berlin, 17.00 – 20.00
Leipniz hall of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Gendarmenmarkt Berlin
Introduction to RNA interference and the European research project RIGHT - Thomas F. Meyer
Marina Cavazzana-Calvo (Paris):
"Gene therapy for primary immunodeficiencies"
Luigi Naldini (Milan):
"How to use RNA interference for gene therapy of inherited diseases"
Christoph Rehmann-Sutter (Basel):
"A new twist for gene therapy ethics or the same reloaded?"
Dietmar Mieth (Tuebingen):
"Gene Therapy - Progress and Responsibilities"
Moderation: Volker Stollorz

BENEFITS and RISKS of Silencing Gene Therapy - A critical appraisal
Contemporary medicines used for the treatment of devastating human diseases, including cancer, neuro-degeneration, chronic inflammation and autoimmune processes rely on the modulation of aberrant molecular processes inside the cells of our bodies. Many conventional treatments, however, are connected with severe side effects or hampered by the occurrence of treatment resistances.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a naturally occurring mechanism that leads to the “silencing” of a gene. In consequence, the respective protein is no longer synthesised. New trials explore the feasibility of RNAi for research and therapy, but there are hints that the technique might induce immune reactions or silence the wrong gene or genes. Furthermore, the targeted delivery of the RNA inhibitors only to the affected organ or cells is still a challenge.
Future treatment options for gene therapy can build upon this new approach, which promises to be more specific and more versatile compared to conventional treatments. RNAi could be applied to turn off genes that are overactive in diseases such as cancer or to disable genes needed by an invading virus, e.g. HIV. It is the goal of the European RIGHT consortium to explore this new strategy and to elucidate the pros and cons.

A report from the panel discussion can be downloaded here.
The program poster can be downloaded here.

Accompanying video material will soon be available on this website.

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