A supplement providing a snapshot of the latest developments in chemical biology
Probes reveal cell biology
22 February 2006
Two techniques for studying biological mechanisms within living cells have emerged as powerful tools with enormous potential: chemical genetics and RNA interference (RNAi).
Ulrike S. Eggert and colleagues from Harvard Medical School, US, compare and contrast these methods that could potentially gain widespread use in diagnostics and therapeutics.
Chemical genetics uses small molecules to probe biological processes directly. The technique works by inhibiting protein function, quickly and often reversibly, and the effects can be monitored by real time live imaging.
Both of these emerging technologies have their respective advantages and disadvantages, said Eggert. She comments that the key to using them in the future may lie in combining the techniques, to enhance their complementary strengths and reveal new potentials.