RNA Medi­cine

By

RNA Medi­cine

Ribo­nuc­leic acids, RNAs, are famil­iar to us as the link­ing ele­ment between genes, DNA, and their products, pro­teins. The so-called mes­sen­ger RNA, mRNA, is a labile, rap­idly degraded copy of DNA, and it serves as a tem­plate for the syn­thesis of pro­teins by ribosomes. Two other types of RNA also play a role in pro­tein syn­thesis: the small tRNAs, trans­fer RNAs, bring amino acids to the ribo­some, and rRNAs, ribosomal RNAs, are struc­tural com­pon­ents of ribosomes. So much for the clas­sic func­tion and pic­ture of RNAs. RNAs have cap­tured the ima­gin­a­tion of research­ers primar­ily because there may have been an RNA world before the bio­lo­gical world as we know it today, which star­ted life on Earth.

In the labor­at­ory, we know RNAs primar­ily as very del­ic­ate molecules that you should not get too close to, espe­cially with your hands, because they degrade very quickly and then are no longer ana­lyz­able or oth­er­wise useful.

In recent years, it has been dis­covered that there are many more types of RNAs: small and large, cir­cu­lar and lin­ear. They appear to have diverse func­tions that extend far bey­ond pro­tein syn­thesis. That RNAs also have an import­ance for medi­cine has been widely known since the intro­duc­tion of mRNA corona vac­cines in late 2020. Today, it is clear that RNA can be used to vac­cin­ate very well. In addi­tion, RNAs are can­did­ates for many other vac­cines and also as thera­peut­ics. The first thera­peut­ics dir­ec­ted against RNA already exist.

ISAR Bioscience is explor­ing the poten­tial of RNAs for ther­apy in sev­eral pro­jects, together with vari­ous part­ners at uni­ver­sit­ies, hos­pit­als and research institutes:

    • With Pro­fessor Stefan Engel­hardt’s research group at the Tech­nical Uni­ver­sity of Munich and the joint spin-off com­pany rnat­ics GmbH, we are invest­ig­at­ing novel drugs against micro-RNAs that could be effect­ive in covid-19 and other inflam­mat­ory lung diseases.
      → Mil­lions in fund­ing for new ther­apy against Covid-19
      → Treat­ment of breath­ing dif­fi­culties with Covid-19
      → rnat­ics
    • In the RNAmed PhD pro­gram of the Elite Net­work Bav­aria, we are explor­ing the bio­logy and thera­peutic poten­tial of RNAs with part­ners at uni­ver­sit­ies and uni­ver­sity hos­pit­als in Würzburg, Regens­burg and Munich. The pro­gram is led by Pro­fessor Jörg Vogel from the Helm­holtz Insti­tute for RNA-based Infec­tion Research at the Uni­ver­sity of Würzburg. The pro­gram is sched­uled to start in Decem­ber 2022.
      → RNAmed – a new gradu­ate pro­gram of the Elite­netzwerk Bayern
    • The Munich-based cluster for the devel­op­ment of new nuc­leic acid-based ther­apies, C-NATM, is one of the win­ners of the second round of the Clusters4Future com­pet­i­tion of the Ger­man Fed­eral Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research (BMBF). In this cluster, ISAR Bioscience con­ducts research together with teams from the two Munich uni­ver­sit­ies, the Helm­holtz Cen­ter Munich for Envir­on­mental Health and sev­eral Munich biotech companies.
      → BMBF approves cluster for nuc­leic acid based thera­peut­ics in Munich

→ Inter­view on RNA medi­cine with our cooper­a­tion part­ner and head of the RNAmed PhD pro­gram, Pro­fessor Jörg Vogel

GDNÄ Pres­id­ent Martin Lohse dis­cussed the poten­tial of this new research dir­ec­tion with lead­ing RNA research­ers at the 200th anniversary meet­ing of the Soci­ety of Ger­man Nat­ural Sci­ent­ists and Phys­i­cians, GDNÄ, on Septem­ber 11, 2022. What is already feas­ible today? And what is on the hori­zon for the future? The experts from basic research and clin­ical medi­cine also explored these ques­tions in an exchange with con­fer­ence participants.
→ Present­a­tion by Jörg Vogel at the 200th anniversary meet­ing of the GDNÄ: „Eine kurze Ein­führung in die Welt der RNA-basierte Med­izin” (in German)
→ Sub­sequent panel dis­cus­sion at the 200th anniversary meet­ing of the GDNÄ (in German)