12 May 2010   |   News

Edinburgh: Micro-RNAs for treatment of viral infections

Licensing opportunity | Collaborative R&D opportunity

Researchers at Edinburgh University have identified a family of micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) that have been shown to have broad acting anti-viral function on DNA and RNA viruses.

A number of miRNAs have been identified that can modulate host cell defence mechanisms to prevent viral replication and limit the spread of infection. Furthermore, the miRNAs have been shown to have broad acting anti-viral activity on diverse viral families, such as influenza, herpes and togaviruses. Due to the diversity of the anti-viral activity of the miRNAs, it is likely they will have further activity beyond the key viruses already tested.

The miRNAs are encoded in the human genome and function as natural regulators of global gene expression. Over 700 human miRNAs have been identified to date, regulating an estimated 30 per cent of all human genes.

The benefits of this approach include the fact that, due to their small size, miRNAs can enter the cell undetected, and that they naturally modulate the host’s innate immunity. The miRNAs are expected to have applications in RNA therapeutics and anti-viral therapies to treat a broad range of infections, including Influenza.

This technology is subject to a UK priority patent application. Edinburgh University is seeking industrial partners to help commercialise this technology via a licensing and collaborative research agreement.

For more information, see the project’s page at: http://www.university-technology.com/details/micro-rnas-for-treatment-of-viral-infections

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