Small silencing RNAs: state-of-the-art

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2009 Jul 25;61(9):672-703. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2009.05.002. Epub 2009 May 7.


Over just a single decade, we have witnessed the rapid maturation of the field of RNA interference - the sequence-specific gene silencing mediated by small double-stranded RNAs - directly from its infancy into adulthood. With exciting data currently emerging from first clinical trials, it is now more likely than ever that RNAi drugs will soon provide another potent class of agents in our battle against infectious and genetic diseases. Accelerating this process and adding to RNAi's promise is our steadily expanding arsenal of innovative RNAi-based experimental tools and clinically applicable technologies. This article will critically review a selection of relevant recent advances in RNAi therapeutics, from novel asymmetric or bi-functional siRNA designs, deliberate use of small RNAs to regulate nuclear transcription, engineering of potent adeno-associated viral vectors for shRNA expression, exploitation of endogenous miRNAs to control transgene expression or vector tropism, to elegant attempts to inhibit cellular miRNAs involved in human disease. This review will also present cautionary notes on the potential risks inherent to in vivo RNAi applications, before discussing the latest surprising findings on circulating miRNAs in human body fluids, and concluding with an outlook into the possible future of RNAi as an increasingly powerful biomedical tool.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors
  • MicroRNAs / physiology
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering* / adverse effects
  • RNA, Small Interfering* / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering* / pharmacology
  • RNA, Small Interfering* / therapeutic use
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Interfering