The treatment of viral infections has relied on pre-emptive vaccination or use of a limited range of anti-viral drugs. However, the majority of viruses have no available drugs and treatment is merely supportive. RNA interference (RNAi) offers the ability to directly and rapidly treat virus infections via the targeting of viral genes. Indeed, clinical trials have already been undertaken with promising results. Here we review the current state of the RNAi field for the treatment of viral infections such as HIV, human papillomavirus and HCV. We also review novel strategies including the concept of targeting self-genes to limit viral infection and activating the immune system for improved outcomes. Finally we examine innovative approaches being pursued at the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre including the use of highthroughput siRNA screens to identify new antiviral targets.
- RNA interference