Sector Expert: Craig C. Mello
Dr. Craig C. Mello is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and codirector of the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Mello's lab uses the nematode C. elegans as a model system to study embryogenesis and gene silencing. His collaborative work with Dr. Andrew Fire led to the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi), for which they shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Together they showed that when C. elegans is exposed to double-stranded ribonucleic acidódsRNA, a molecule that mimics a signature of viral infectionóthe worm mounts a sequence-specific silencing reaction that interferes with the expression of cognate cellular RNAs. For the layperson, RNAi is the cell's search engine; the Google of the cell. RNAi allows researchers to rapidly "knock out" the expression of specific genes and to thus define the biological functions of those genes. RNAi also provides a potential therapeutic avenue to silence genes that contribute to disease. Before the Nobel Prize, Dr. Mello's work on RNAi was recognized with several awards, including the National Academy of Sciences Molecular Biology Award, the Canadian Gairdner International Award, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Award and the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Read Dr. Mello's biographical sketch on the Nobel Foundation's website.
The era of gene regulation has begun in earnest. Craig Mello and Andrew Fire won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2006 for discovering RNA interference, which can stop genes in their tracks. Drug therapy traditionally has been about finding a molecule that would bind to a protein and short-circuit the reaction pathway that led to disease. Thanks to Mello and Fire, it is now possible to prevent synthesis of the protein itself. In this interview with The Life Sciences Report, Craig Mello, professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, discusses the stunningly disruptive potential of technologies that can silence genes. He also mentions some interesting companies in the field.
"RXII's sd-rxRNA platform is probably one of the best self-delivering RNAi platforms out there."
The Life Sciences Report Interview with Craig C. Mello