Reading the wires every day reinforces my impression that biological drugs are an evolving field that may soon become a major segment of the pharmaceutical industry. But a new report from Research and Markets reminded me that a form of gene therapy also promises interesting discoveries and potential cures.
RNA interference stops RNA in target viruses from being transcribed, thus preventing virus genes from being expressed in the body. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) is key to this technique. In essence, siRNA breaks up target RNA into pieces that can no longer be translated into protein.
RNAi may provide treatments for diseases that are difficult to manage, according to the report. For example, a Phase II trial of an inhaled siRNA reduced Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection in patients and was well tolerated. Oncology could benefit from RNAi, too. Studies are using RNAi to target genes expressed during tumor development. And RNAi could also combat pathological inflammation. The most advanced research in this indication focuses on wet age-related macular degeneration.
In a press release describing their report, Research and Markets notes that 70 RNAi drugs are currently in development. The RNAi-therapy market is becoming increasingly competitive, and may be worth $580 million by 2012.
RNAi therapy seems like an ingenious way of preventing or curing disease. The potential for discovering elusive cures and the apparent economic viability of the therapy mean that we might be hearing more about RNAi therapy in the years to come.