Patients with an impaired immune system, such as HIV- positive patients and recipients of solid organ and particularly hematopoietic stem cell transplants, are at high risk of life-threatening infections with human adenoviruses. Among stem cell transplant recipients with systemic infections, mortality rates of almost 80% have been reported. The efficacy of commonly used drugs to treat adenovirus infections is limited and frequently associated with toxicity. Alternative drugs are still under investigation. In light of the fact that numbers of solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients are constantly rising, there is a pressing need for alternative treatment options.
Short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and artificial microRNAs (amiRNAs) are a class of artificial small RNAs that can bring about the inactivation of cellular and viral genes via the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. In a previous project led by the investigators, highly potent siRNAs and amiRNAs with activity against components of the adenoviral DNA replication machinery that can effectively inhibit the replication of human adenoviruses in cell culture experiments were developed and characterised. The project is aimed at investigating if adenovirus infections can be inhibited by these RNAi-triggering small RNAs in vivo.
The project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).