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Down from the Height of Hype But Not Out

RNAi may have been eclipsed by the arrival of CRISPR/Cas9, but The Economist says it might too early to count it out.

Instead, The Economist says, the tool might just be following the Gartner consultancy's cycle of hype — in that case, it has fallen from the height of expectations to the low of disillusionment. But after that, if it survives, it could swing back up to the productivity plateau, Economist says.

Though some companies have abandoned the approach, others are soldiering on. For instance, Alnylam has seven siRNAs in clinical trials, including two in phase three trials that targets TTR-mediated amyloidosis and one that targets PCSK9 to reduce low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol. That one, The Economist notes, has the greatest market potential.

Meanwhile, it adds that Dicerna is working on siRNA to target mutated versions of KRAS and MYC, and Benitec Biopharma is exploring new ways of introducing siRNAs into cells.

"Whether any one of these approaches will actually succeed in climbing the slopes of the plateau of productivity remains to be seen," The Economist says. "But they do have promise. RNAi, less hyped than it once was, may still have a bright future."