Priti Kumar PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and of Microbial Pathogenesis
RNA interference (RNAi)-based strategies for treating viral infections
Current ProjectsThe current focus of my lab is to refine the above methods and use them to investigate key aspects of HIV immunopathogenesis and AIDS-associated T cell loss. In addition we have also developed a novel method for the specific delivery of siRNAs into neuronal cells and used this to treat flaviviral encephalitis in mouse models. My lab is presently using this approach to investigate the pathogenesis of flaviviral infections. The long term goals are to translate this research into viable HIV-AIDS and anti-flaviviral therapy.
My laboratory is involved in developing novel RNA interference (RNAi)-based strategies for treating viral infections. RNAi is a gene silencing mechanism in which 19-21 nucleotide double-stranded RNAs called small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) can guide the destruction of complementary cellular mRNAs with a high degree of specificity. A major challenge in using RNAi-based therapies in vivo is the targeted delivery of siRNAs to specific tissues/cells of interest. Targeted delivery would not only improve efficacy but also reduce potential side effects of RNAi therapy.
Towards this goal we have recently developed a novel method for the specific delivery of siRNAs into human T cells and tested in vivo efficacy using “humanized mice”: (immunodeficient mice transplanted with human hematopoietic stem cells and consequently a human immune system). Antiviral siRNAs delivered by this approach could control HIV in these mice demonstrating the feasibility of RNAi therapy for HIV infection.