According to a story from news-medical.net, a results of a recent study could help accelerate the development of therapies for liver diseases based on RNA interference (RNAi). This study demonstrated the usefulness of an engineered liver tissue model, which was able to accurately replicate the effects of an RNAi therapy. This class of therapies function by halting the activity of certain genes in the cells of the patient.
The field of RNAi therapies has mostly been focused on the liver because it is often a hotbed for particles that carry RNA. In the study, the researchers used the liver tissue model in order to test RNAi therapies. The first test showed that the RNAi therapy was able shut down the expression of a protein implicated in alpha 1 antitrypsin-associated liver disease by 95 percent. This is just one of many rare, hereditary liver disorders that could potentially benefit from RNAi type therapies.
The scientists also ran another RNAi based treatment in the liver tissue model that was intended to treat an infection such as malaria. RNAi therapies can impact infections by suppressing genes that are expressed by the host that the pathogen typically exploits in order in order to survive and propagate. The therapy used in the study affected a critical receptor that malaria must use in order to infiltrate liver cells. RNAi treatments could be an appealing alternative to a regimen of powerful antibiotics or other daily treatments, which can eventually lead to serious side effects. By contrast RNAi can be administered once every few weeks.
The researchers found that the engineered liver tissue model could also be used analyze the side effects of other medications and they were able to observe how the liver breaks down these drugs. The researchers once again used RNAi in order to suppress certain metabolic enzymes which allowed them to observe the breakdown of Lipitor and Tylenol using the tissue model. These are both drugs that can cause liver damage in certain cases.
It is clear that this liver tissue model could be a valuable research tool for RNAi therapies and many other treatments for liver diseases. This study was originally published in the academic journal Cell Metabolism.