Prospects of RNA interference therapy for cancer

Sara Isabel Pai, Y. Y. Lin, B. Macaes, Avedis Meneshian, C. F. Hung, T. C. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

272 Scopus citations


RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful gene-silencing process that holds great promise in the field of cancer therapy. The discovery of RNAi has generated enthusiasm within the scientific community, not only because it has been used to rapidly identify key molecules involved in many disease processes including cancer, but also because RNAi has the potential to be translated into a technology with major therapeutic applications. Our evolving understanding of the molecular pathways important for carcinogenesis has created opportunities for cancer therapy employing RNAi technology to target the key molecules within these pathways. Many gene products involved in carcinogenesis have already been explored as targets for RNAi intervention, and RNAi targeting of molecules crucial for tumor-host interactions and tumor resistance to chemo- or radiotherapy has also been investigated. In most of these studies, the silencing of critical gene products by RNAi technology has generated significant antiproliferative and/or proapoptotic effects in cell-culture systems or in preclinical animal models. Nevertheless, significant obstacles, such as in vivo delivery, incomplete suppression of target genes, nonspecific immune responses and the so-called off-target effects, need to be overcome before this technology can be successfully translated into the clinical arena. Significant progress has already been made in addressing some of these issues, and it is foreseen that early phase clinical trials will be initiated in the very near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-477
Number of pages14
JournalGene Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer therapy
  • Oncogene
  • RNA interference (RNAi)
  • Short interfering RNA (siRNA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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