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The Science of Biodefense: RNAi

Allison Chamberlain and Gigi Kwik Gronvall
Date posted:
June 01, 2007
Publication type:

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science. 2007;5(2):104-106. 

© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Available on publisher's website
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Full article as PDF


RNA interference (RNAi) has significant implications for treating emerging diseases and for biodefense. RNAi can be used to target and silence genes, so it can be used to destroy the genes that SARS, influenza, or other viruses need to invade their hosts. RNAi may also prove to be faster than current technologies in helping develop medical countermeasures for new biological threats, whether they result from natural outbreaks or bioterrorism.

However, like many powerful biotechnologies, RNAi is dual-use and may also be attractive to individuals intending to cause harm. This article describes how RNAi works, some of its current clinical applications, how it can be used in developing biodefense countermeasures, and its potential as a dual-use technology. As this powerful technology progresses, it will be important for scientists and policymakers alike to understand both the positive and negative implications RNAi brings to biodefense.



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