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What is RNA interference technology?

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RNA interference (RNAi) is a naturally occurring mechanism that leads to the “silencing” of genes. In consequence, the respective protein is no longer synthesised. In nature, this mechanism is used for the regulation of specific genes and is also applied as a defence against viruses. In research, this technique can be used for loss-of-function studies where a gene is specifically silenced and the impact of this loss is analysed in cells or whole organisms. This can be performed under normal conditions or in the context of a disease.
The importance of this technology is reflected by the fact that the 2006 Nobel prize for medicine was awarded for the discovery of RNA interference by Craig Mello and Andrew Fire.

On the websites of the Nature Publishing Group you can find an animated tour through the processes of RNA interference. Please click here

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