RNA interference (RNAi)
Andrew Fire and Craig Mello were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi).
RNAi refers to the introduction of homologous double stranded RNA (dsRNA) to specifically target a gene's product (protein), resulting in null or hypomorphic phenotypes. The ability of interfering RNA to silence genes was discovered in 1998 by American scientists, Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello, who shared the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their work. Fire and Mello successfully inhibited the expression of specific genes by introducing short double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) segments into the cells of nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans). Gene silencing can be achieved by chemically synthesized RNAi triggering molecules, and RNAi can silence “undruggable” genes (cannot be targeted by small molecules or biologics). RNAi is widely considered to be a completely new approach to drug discovery and development.