Though the RNAi field was shaken in late 2010 and early 2011 by the decisions of two major pharmaceutical players to drop their in-house development of oligonucleotide medicines, industry insiders saw a modest renewal of big pharma's interest in the gene-silencing technology in 2012.

However, concerns that RNAi won't live up to its potential remain, making solid clinical demonstrations of its therapeutic utility and even regulatory approvals a must before it will be embraced as warmly as it had in previous years, they said.

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