RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific gene-silencing mechanism in eukaryotes, which is believed to function as a defence against viruses and transposons. Since its discovery, RNAi has been developed into a widely used technique for generating genetic knock-outs and for studying gene function by reverse genetics. Additionally, inhibition of virus replication by means of induced RNAi has now been reported for numerous viruses, including several important human pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, dengue virus, poliovirus and influenza virus A. In this review, we will summarize the current data on RNAi-mediated inhibition of virus replication and discuss the possibilities for the development of RNAi-based antiviral therapeutics.

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