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.

  • Macrophage targeting paper online in JCR Mariam's, Ying's, Yuran's, Rima's and Teresa's paper in collaboration with Drs. Daniel Abebe, Tomoko Fujiwara, and Nardhy Gomez is accepted and online in the Journal ...
    Posted Aug 26, 2016, 3:22 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Merkel lab posters at GRC on Drug Carriers in Medicine and Biology Both our Munich and Detroit based labs will be represented at the GRC this year with Mariam's, Ying's, Rima's and Teresa's poster on macrophage targeting and ...
    Posted Aug 26, 2016, 3:19 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Ying successfully defends thesis On August 3, Ying successfully defend her thesis entitled "Folate receptor Targeted Three-Layered Micelles and Hydrogels for Gene Delivery to Activated Macrophages".We are very proud of our most ...
    Posted Aug 20, 2016, 2:02 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Rima's, Teresa's and Maha's book chapter is online! Congratulations Rima, Teresa, Maha and collaborators Daniel Abebe and Tomoko Fujiwara on a new publication based on our collaboration!Daniel G. Abebe, Rima Kandil, Teresa Kraus, Maha Elsayed, Tomoko Fujiwara ...
    Posted Jul 21, 2016, 2:38 PM by Olivia Merkel
  • Steve wins travel grant to attend the 6th International Symposium on Folate Receptors Steve is the recipient of a travel grant for the 6th international symposium on folate receptors in Breckenridge, CO this fall. Congrats Steve!!Steve will also give a talk at ...
    Posted Jul 8, 2016, 12:32 PM 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