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RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as an extremely versatile and powerful tool in biomedical research. A new study published in the February issue of Nature Structural Biology reports the creation of transgenic mice in which inherited RNAi lowers or silences the expression of a target gene, producing a stable "gene knockdown." This finding extends the power of RNAi to genetic studies in live animals, and has far-reaching implications for the study and treatment of many human diseases.
Human heart tissue has for the first time been created in the laboratory. Generated from embryonic stem cells, the tissue could be used for testing and creating new drugs, for genetic studies, for tissue engineering and for studying the effects of various stresses on the heart. "Everyone imagines the possibilities of embryonic stem cells in repairing broken hearts, but stem cell technology offers even more -- and it offers it much earlier," said Dr. Lior Gepstein of the Technion Faculty of Medicine who headed the study. "Currently, we test drugs on animals, but we would get more reliable results if we tested them on the actual human tissues."