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European Biopharmaceutical Review

RNAi in the Gene to Drug Approach

A recently discovered phenomenon called RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful tool for both research and the drug discovery process. It has proven to be an adaptable technology, which can be used to accelerate the target discovery process and is an indispensable technique for many modern companies in their attempts to select new gene-derived drug targets. It also holds the potential for therapeutic use, becoming the basis for development of RNAi-based drugs for some biotechnology companies. Although a growing number of companies now exploit the RNAi technology, both for drug discovery and therapeutics, the patent claims are still unclear and may ultimately lead to major disputes over IP positions. This article presents a review of RNAi technology, including its underlying mechanisms, its potential as a target discovery tool and therapeutic agent, and patents covering different fields in RNAi technology.

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By Dr Joanna Grabarek, Research Scientist, Polgen Division, Dr Lisa Frenz, Clinical Research Scientist, Dr Graham Bell, General Manager, Polgen Division and Professor David M Glover, FRSE, Chief Scientist, Polgen Divison at Cyclacel Ltd

Dr Joanna B Grabarek is Research Scientist, Polgen Division at Cyclacel Ltd. She has an MSc from Warsaw University and a PhD from the Polish Academy of Sciences, having studied the cell cycle control and nuclear-cytoplasmic interaction in mouse oocytes and preimplantation stage embryos. Joanna has spent 10 years in scientific research, three of which were in the biotech industry.


Dr Lisa Frenz is Clinical Research Scientist at Cyclacel Ltd and was formerly Gene Discovery Team Leader for Polgen Division at Cyclacel Ltd. Lisa has a BSc(Hons) from Glasgow University and a PhD from Dundee University. She has held post-doctoral research posts at Dundee University and NIMR Mill Hill, studying genes involved in cell cycle regulation in yeast model systems. Lisa has spent 11 years in scientific research, three of which were in the biotech industry and she has recently progressed to clinical research.


Dr Graham Bell is General Manager of Polgen Division at Cyclacel Ltd. He has a BSc and PhD from Edinburgh University and held a post-doctoral research post at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary studying the production of human monoclonal antibodies. Graham has been in the biotech industry for 15 years.


Professor David Glover, FRSE is Chief Scientist Polgen for Division Cyclacel Ltd and is also Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics, Chairman of the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge, and Director of Cancer Research Campaign Cell Cycle Genetics Group. Previously, David was Professor of Molecular Genetics at Imperial College London and subsequently at the University of Dundee.

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Dr Joanna B Grabarek
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Dr Lisa Frenz
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Dr Graham Bell
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Professor David Glover
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