Thermo Fisher Scientific creates breakthrough gene-silencing tool

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has developed a breakthrough gene-silencing tool that greatly simplifies RNA- interference (RNAi) technology and eliminates barriers associated with previous cellular delivery methods.

The advance is expected to accelerate research and drug discovery in many important life sciences fields, including neuroscience, immunology, stem-cell science and oncology.

Thermo Scientific Dharmacon Accell(TM) siRNA is a novel form of short- interfering RNA (siRNA) that is absorbed directly by cells without the use of conventional delivery methods such as transfection reagents, viruses or electroporation. Dharmacon Accell siRNA effectively silences genes in all cell types tested to date.

RNAi is a powerful technology used to silence, or knock down, target genes and the proteins they produce, revealing their role in biological pathways and disease processes. Understanding gene function is critical for the development of drugs targeting those genes.

"Previous technologies for delivering siRNA into difficult cell types, such as primary cells, suspension cells, stem cells and neurons, were often ineffective and resulted in high levels of cell death," said Dr. Ian Jardine, vice president of global research and development for Thermo Fisher Scientific. "Dharmacon Accell is the only siRNA molecule that has been able to penetrate every cell type we have tested -- without the need for delivery reagents that can skew experimental results. With Dharmacon Accell siRNA and our Dharmacon SMARTvector shRNA advancement, scientists now have an effective RNAi tool set for biomedical and pharmaceutical research that will have broad implications for human health."

Dharmacon Accell siRNA is simply mixed with the optimized Accell delivery media, then added to cultured cells. It is an easy two-step process that saves researchers significant time in their laboratories and avoids the experimental variability caused by toxicity and off-target effects of conventional siRNA delivery methods.

"There is often a narrow window of conditions in which conventional siRNA delivery is effective. Dharmacon Accell siRNA achieves highly efficient siRNA delivery for gene silencing without the need for optimization," explained Jardine. "In addition, the elimination of delivery reagents, along with the associated non-specific effects, greatly simplifies the interpretation of RNAi experiments."

Preliminary studies also suggest that long-term silencing of up to 30 days can now be achieved through repeated application of Dharmacon Accell siRNA -- previously not possible with conventional synthetic siRNA reagents.

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