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.

  • Audioslides for our latest JCR paper are online: The audioslides for Mariam's and Ying's paper in JCR, which is a collaboration with Drs. Gomez-Lopez, Abebe and Fujiwara, are now online:http://audioslides.elsevier.com/getvideo ...
    Posted Sep 27, 2016, 6:43 PM by Olivia Merkel
  • Steve's review is online Steve's paper is online: http://www.nature.com/…/journal/vaop/naam/abs/gt201667a.htmlCongrats!!
    Posted Sep 27, 2016, 6:41 PM by Olivia Merkel
  • Mariam and Rima present at Innovation in Drug Delivery Conference From September 25-28, Mariam and Rima will present posters at the 4th Congress on Innovation in Drug Delivery  in Antibes, France:https://idd2016.sciencesconf.orgSupport them at their ...
    Posted Sep 27, 2016, 6:36 PM by Olivia Merkel
  • Steve presents at Folate Receptor Symposium From September 19-23, Steve is presenting a poster at the 6th International Symposium on Folate Receptos in Breckenridge, CO:http://folatesymposium2016.wix.com/6thfolatesymposiumSupport him at his poster ...
    Posted Sep 27, 2016, 6:34 PM by Olivia Merkel
  • Yuran presents at NanoDDS From Sept 16-18, Yuran is presenting a poster on T cell targeting at the 14th NanoDDS conference in Baltimore:http://nanodds16.johnshopkins.eduSupport her at her poster if ...
    Posted Sep 27, 2016, 6:32 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