Researchers at U.S.-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc blocked the action of a gene involved in &to=http://english.pravda.ru/fun/2002/05/28/29379.html' target=_blank>cholesterol metabolism by using RNA interference (RNAi).
Scientists have used a &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2001/01/31/2264.html' target=_blank>genetic technique to cut cholesterol in mice in a groundbreaking way which could one day be used to treat a range of human illnesses.
"Alnylam's progress really shows the ability of using RNA interference to silence disease-causing genes in a manner that has not been previously available," John Maraganore, chief executive officer of the company, said in a telephone interview.
RNAi is a mechanism that occurs naturally in cells to regulate or silence specific genes. Many diseases develop when genes do not work properly so RNAi offers tremendous potential to create a new generation of selective drugs against harmful genes, informs Reuters.
According to Nature.com, cells that make cholesterol have cholesterol receptors on their surface, so that they can sense levels of the molecule in the blood. Adding the cholesterol molecule to the RNA ensures that the complex is taken up specifically by these cells, in the liver and small intestine.
When the researchers injected this modified molecule into mice, they found that it cut the animals' levels of "bad" cholesterol by 44%.