Although animals generally express fewer variants of RNAi to produce an antiviral response, the first instance of RNAi or gene silencing in animals was documented in 1996 and in 1998. Fire and Mello discovered that this ability to silence the gene expression was actually triggered by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Thanks to this discovery, they received a shared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It was quickly discovered, by using synthetically made small interfering RNA (siRNA), that it was possible to target the silencing of specific sequences in a gene, rather than silencing the entire gene.
Transbiotics™ is the transfer of molecules, through naturally occurring bacteria, to safely disrupt targeted pathogens in animals or plants through gene silencing.
Only a year later, it was demonstrated that this sequence specific silencing had therapeutic applications by targeting a sequence from the Hepatitis C virus in transgenic mice. Since then, multiple researchers have attempted to expand the therapeutic applications of RNAi. RNAi also has the potential to be used to treat multiple pathogens including viruses, disease, parasites, fungal disease, maladaptive genetic mutations and to provide other therapeutic functions.