Dr. Anil Sood is a well established Houston medical practitioner who focuses on gynecologic oncology and a professor with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Anil Sood’s responsibilities include serving as co-director of the Center for RNA Interference (RNAi) and Non-Coding RNA (Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer).
The subject of substantial research over the past 15 years, RNAi involves the use of short RNA snippets in “shutting off” genes that are malfunctioning. A natural biological process, RNAi is believed to represent a defense mechanism for protecting organisms from RNA viruses.
When double stranded RNA (dsRNA) is identified as an intruder, the Dicer enzyme is recruited and used to cut the foreign RNA into tiny pieces that are about 22 nucleotides long. A strand of the siRNA then binds to the target viral mRNA and signals its destruction. The siRNA approach is now being developed as a therapy for cancer and other diseases.
The discovery of RNA interference resulted in a joint Nobel Prize in medicine in 2006. This means of silencing gene expression has since been identified in a number of organisms and has potential applications in the treatment of a variety of diseases such as cancers.