The Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative (RNAi Global), an alliance of Dharmacon, Inc. and 14 leading international research centers have announced progress toward its fundamental goal of developing internationally accepted standards for conducting research using the first complete siRNA library targeting genes across the entire human genome.
Genome-wide siRNA libraries have the potential to fundamentally change biological research and accelerate drug discovery and development.
However, experience with previous technologies has shown that intra- and inter-laboratory variations are common at the outset and can limit the ultimate utility of early results.
The initial data presented at the second meeting of RNAi Global in Washington, D.C. in April demonstrated that without uniform standards, the results of experiments may not be comparable between laboratories.
"To accelerate generation of meaningful experimental output, twelve members of the RNAi Global Initiative conducted the same experiments using the same protocols in the most extensive multi-site comparative RNAi screen conducted to date," said William S. Marshall, Ph.D., vice president of technology and business development for Fisher Biosciences.
"By comparing this large data set, we were able to identify several critical areas of potential variation and the key information required for inter-laboratory experimental comparison."
"Understanding this inherent variation in research results is the principal reason Dharmacon took the unique step of forming a working consortium to develop the experimental parameters necessary to facilitate inter- and intra-laboratory comparisons."
Stefan Wiemann, Ph.D., Group Leader at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), added, "The absence of accepted research standards for the new tool of microarrays in the 1990s cost the life sciences research community many years of progress."
"By tackling the need for standards early on, RNAi Global is accelerating the way we will be able to work with genome-wide siRNA libraries, which in turn has the potential to accelerate disease and drug research."
The standardized RNAi screening experiment that each member conducted was part of the effort to propose standards that was discussed during the first meeting of RNAi Global last October.
Researchers from the member institutions analyzed the results of the joint screening experiment, and shared their insights and observations at the April meeting, and now they have begun discussing aspects of the proposed research protocols at select scientific conferences.
After collecting additional input from other experts in the field, RNAi Global representatives plan to publish a draft of the proposed standards in a peer-reviewed journal.
"Members of RNAi Global are already using the genome-wide siRNA library to conduct ongoing research, so it is crucial to develop standards expeditiously," said Michael White, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
"As we begin publishing the findings we have made using the genome-wide siRNA library, it is essential that they be comparable both within and between laboratories, and the work of RNAi Global is now enabling us to move rapidly in that direction."
"In addition, the open discussions within RNAi Global on other aspects of genome-wide screening is fostering exchange of expertise in other areas such as assay development, lab automation, and statistical analysis."
The second full meeting of the group was held April 5-7 in Washington, D.C., where the results of initial pilot screening activities were shared.
This ongoing interaction between RNAi Global members is expected to help researchers optimize high-throughput human genome-wide siRNA screening and accelerate drug discovery.