RNA interference is a promising tool that can block expression of key genes involved in disease mechanisms, but its clinical potential has been unclear. In the February 10 Nature Medicine, Erwei Song and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, show that RNA interference (RNAi) targeting the gene Fas (also known as Tnfrsf6, encoding the apoptosis Fas receptor) can protect mice from fulminant hepatitis (Nature Medicine, DOI:10.1038/nm828, February 10, 2003).

Song et al. investigated the effects of intravenous siRNA injection targeting Fas on mouse hepatocytes in vivo. They observed that Fas siRNA specifically reduced Fas mRNA levels and expression of Fas protein in the liver. The cells subsequently became resistant to apoptosis when exposed to Fas-specific antibody or when co-cultured with concanavalin A (ConA)-stimulated hepatic mononuclear cells. In addition, they showed that treatment with Fas siRNA abrogated hepatocyte necrosis and inflammatory infiltration and protected mice...

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