UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – RNA Interference and Antisense Technology
RNAi is a gene silencing technology that inhibits protein synthesis in target cells using double-stranded RNA. Same result is achieved by Antisense technology through single-stranded RNA.
- RNAi technologies are now known to formulate drugs capable of reducing cholesterol levels by half. The technology also finds immense importance in treating acute viral infections like acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), because of the well-studied life cycle and pattern of gene expression of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Promising results have been shown by Antisense technology in producing a variety of tomato with increased shelf-life commonly known as Flavr Savr.
- It can be said that, in the near future, antisense technology could be used in targeting cancer.
Two major challenges are faced by India which are hindrances in progress of RNAi and antisense technologies. They are:
- Lack of efficient and targeted delivery vehicles for these potential RNA molecules.
- The relatively minimal development of silencing reagents that ensure consistent, specific, significant and lasting knockdown of the gene targeted.
India, in order to deal with these constraints, needs to develop domestic facilities focusing on nanotechnology-based targeted RNA-delivery product development.
- Nanotechnology being a multidisciplinary field must evoke cooperation and partnership among government ministries at both, the state as well as central level, private sector and research organizations.
- There has to be active collaboration with research institutions in the Japan, Russia, the US and other early achievers in this space, in terms of the training and development of human resources at all the levels of government.
- Academic institutions and governmental agencies must organize nationwide seminars and symposiums to highlight the importance of nanotechnology in the fourth industrial revolution.
- India must also pay heed to enhancing its competence around bioinformatics.
- Conducive environment must be provided for Start-ups in the bioinformatics field to work on developing design algorithms for the development of safer, less toxic and more stable silencing reagents.
- Sustainable improvements in bioinformatics research would require an increased number of trained scientists becoming experts in the discipline.