Welcome to the Merkel lab!

The Merkel lab is based in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Wayne State University, Detroit with a sister lab within the Department of Pharmacy at LMU Munich and focuses on novel non-viral and targeted nanosized siRNA delivery systems. We are especially interested in local drug, gene, and siRNA delivery with an emphasis on pulmonary delivery for applications in cancer immunology and inflammatory diseases.

In 2006, Andrew Fire and Greg Mello were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for their discovery of gene silencing by introduction of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) (1). Their work led to the identification of a catalytic mechanism of a multi-protein complex (2) which incorporates short RNAs that on their part are complementary in sequence to mRNA which is subsequently degraded (1). This mechanism can also be exploited biotechnologically. Long dsRNA which naturally or directedly reach the cytoplasm are degraded by “Dicer”, an RNase III-like enzyme, into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) of 21 to 25 nucleotides in length (3). 
After being transferred into the cytosol, where it is incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), double-stranded siRNA is cleaved upon activation of RISC, and complementary mRNA can bind to the antisense strand. Argonaute (Ago2), an endonuclease in the RISC, subsequently cleaves the mRNA leading to down-regulation of the target gene expression.
Since the discovery of an RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism in mammalian cells, RNAi is routinely used in functional genomics and drug development (4, 5). RNA based therapeutics, however, are rather sparse. 

(1)    Fire, A. et al., (1998) Nature 391, 806-11.

(2)    Hammond, S. M. et al., (2001) Science 293, 1146-50.
(3)    Agrawal, N. et al., (2003) Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 67, 657-85.

(4)  Dorsett, Y. and Tuschl, T. (2004) Nat Rev Drug Discov 3, 318-29.
(5)  Gomase, V. S., and Tagore, S. (2008) Curr Drug Metab 9, 241-4.

  • New grant for Munich lab to investigate CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing The Merkel Lab just got the grant proposal "Genome editing for DMPK-CTG-repeat expansion via receptor mediated targeted delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 vectors to myoblasts" funded by the German ...
    Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:13 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Dan's paper is accepted in IOP Nanotechnology Dan's manuscript "The impact of microfluidic mixing of triblock micelleplexes on in vitro / in vivo gene silencing and intracellular trafficking" is accepted for publication in IOP Nanotechnology. Congrats Dan ...
    Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:12 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Dan speaks at CB Research Symposium Dan is giving a talk at the 7th Annual Cancer Biology Graduate Research Symposium tomorrow, Friday, March 31, 2017 at 10.40 am. Please join us in the Margherio Family ...
    Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:11 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Congratulations Dr. Jones! Steve is the latest PhD graduate from our lab and mastered his defense yesterday overly professionally despite a fire alarm 
    Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:10 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Congratulations Dan! Dan won first prize at the Graduate and Postdoc Research Symposium yesterday for his poster "Microfluidic Mixing of Nanoparticle-based siRNA Therapeutics"CONGRATS Dan!! https://events.wayne.edu/2017/03 ...
    Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:09 AM by Olivia Merkel
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Prof. Olivia Merkel
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Wayne State University
Email: olivia.merkel@wayne.edu
Tel: 313-577-1523
Lab: 313-577-1640