The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and Life Technologies have collaborated to make the company’s proprietary library of gene-silencing data available to the general public. The massive dataset will enable scientists around the world to pinpoint the role that individual genes play in the development of disease, potentially leading to better treatment outcomes for patients.

Small interfering RNA (siRNA) can selectively inhibit or ‘silence’ the activity of specific genes with which they share a complementary chemical makeup. The discovery of this natural process won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2006. Scientists have used this phenomenon in RNA interference (RNAi) research to identify minute changes in cell functions. By ‘turning off’ genes one at a time, they can track how individual genes contribute to disease. 

Until now, the unavailability of large public datasets has stunted research in this area. The Life Technologies Silencer Select siRNA library includes 65,000 siRNA sequences targeting more than 20,000 human genes, and will be freely available to the public on NIH’s PubChem database. Experts from NIH’s RNAi initiative plan to continue contributing to the database, making it a living repository for researchers.

“Translation of siRNA library screening results into impactful downstream experiments is the ultimate goal of scientists using our library,” said Alan Sachs, M.D., Ph.D., head of global research and development for Life Technologies. “The availability of these sequence data should greatly facilitate this effort because scientists no longer will be blinded to the actual sequence they are targeting.”

To read the full press release, visit NIH.