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.

  • Aditi will talk at Herrenhausen Symposium on Nov 4 Aditi will deliver a short talk at the GENOME EDITING FOR GENE AND CELL THERAPY, A HERRENHAUSEN SYMPOSIUM, organized by the Volkswagen Foundation and Nature Conferences on November 4.We ...
    Posted by Olivia Merkel
  • Join us on Wednesday, Oct 26 in Munich for a DPhG talk Prof. Merkel is giving a talk on current advances in asthma therapy within the regional seminar series of the Bavarian chapter of the German Pharmaceutical Society on Oct 26 at ...
    Posted by Olivia Merkel
  • Aditi will present at the Keystone Meeting on Precision Genome Editing Aditi's abstract was just accepted for the 2017 Keystone Symposia Conference on Precision Genome Engineering and she will present a poster in Breckenridge, CO, in January. Congrats Aditi! http ...
    Posted by Olivia Merkel
  • ERASMUS+ Intern to join Munich lab in 2017 New intern Elena won an ERASMUS+ fellowship for a post graduate internship and will join the Munich lab in 2017. Congratulations!
    Posted by Olivia Merkel
  • Rima and Mariam present at DPhG meeting On Oct 6, both Mariam and Rima will present posters at the Annual Meeting of the German Pharmaceutical Society (DPhG) in Munich. Join them at their posters! http://www.dphg ...
    Posted 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