Nanoparticle-based artificial RNA silencing machinery for antiviral therapy - Charles Cao

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RNA interference is a fundamental gene regulatory mechanism that is mediated by the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). Here we report that an artificial nanoparticle complex can effectively mimic the function of the cellular RISC machinery for inducing target RNA cleavage. Our results show that a specifically designed nanozyme for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) can actively cleave HCV RNA in a sequence specific manner. This nanozyme is less susceptible to degradation by proteinase activity, can be effectively taken up by cultured human hepatoma cells, is nontoxic to the cultured cells and a xenotransplantation mouse model under the conditions studied, does not trigger detectable cellular interferon response, but shows potent antiviral activity against HCV in cultured cells and in the mouse model. We have observed a 99.6% decrease in HCV RNA levels in mice treated with the nanozyme. These results show that this nanozyme approach has the potential to become a useful tool for functional genomics, as well as for combating protein expression-related diseases such as viral infections and cancers.