Turning off or "siliencing" the activity of genes is of vital importance for scientists: they can understand a gene's function better when they can see what happens when that gene is disactivated. Silencing genes may also lead to the discovery of treatments for disease, for example, in cases where the production of a harmful protein can be regulated. The discovery in 1998 of a new mechanism that regulates the expression of genes, called RNA interference, is hailed a revolution in the study of genes and their functions. The discovery of RNAi, with its promising clinical implications, secured Craig Mello and Andrew Fire this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
On December 11-13, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) will welcome more than sixty scientists to its site at the Barcelona Science Park to discuss the latests advances regarding the mechanisms of gene regulation mediated by ribonucleic acid molecules. The conference, "RNAi: basic biology to clinical impact", is the second Barcelona BioMed Conference, organized by IRB Barcelona with the collaboration of the BBVA Foundation.
"RNAi: basic biology to clinical impact" Organizers Ramon Eritja (IRB Barcelona/CSIC) and Greg Hannon (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York), have invited 15 leading scientists to take part in the event and present their latest work in both basic and applied research.
For example, John Rossi (Beckman Research Institute of Hope, USA) develops RNAi and combinatorial small RNA therapies to treat AIDS. Coorganizer Greg Hannon studies the biochemical mechanisms of RNAi withthe aim of finding new anticancer targets. Antonio Girldez (HarvardUniversity, USA) studies the role of RNAis in zebrafish embryo development.
Another topic of increasing interest is the drug delivery method of RNA molecules and how these interact with their targets. Jean-Paul Behr (Universit Louis Pasteur/CNRS) will present his studies in this area.
Contact: Sonia Armengou
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB)