During the past decade, numerous molecular mediators of neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders have been identified and validated, yet few novel therapies have emerged and the unmet medical needs remain high. These molecular mediators belong to target classes such as ion channels, neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter receptors, cytokines, growth factors, enzymes and other proteins. In some cases, substantial pre-clinical validation exists, but the molecular target has not been readily druggable with small molecules, proteins or antibodies. RNA interference represents a therapeutic approach applicable to such non-druggable targets. Both non-viral and viral delivery strategies are being undertaken for in vivo silencing of molecular targets by RNA interference, which has resulted in robust efficacy in animal models of Alzheimer's disease, ALS, Huntington's disease, spinocerebellar ataxia, anxiety, depression, neuropathic pain, encephalitis and glioblastoma. These proof-of-concept data in animal models, together with the commencement of clinical trials using RNA interference for macular degeneration and respiratory syncytial virus infection, point to the potential of direct RNA interference for neurological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
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