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New RNA Therapeutics Could Be Developed For Cancer

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New RNA Therapeutics Could Be Developed For Cancer

(CTN News) – Australian researchers have discovered a breakthrough that could make RNA-based therapeutics even more effective and long-lasting.

A paper published by Peter MacCallum Cancer Center scientists Vi Wickramasinghe and Linh Ngo, along with collaborator Greg Goodall from the University of South Australia and SA Pathology’s Center for Cancer Biology, describes a new pathway that may help overcome RNA-based therapeutics’ major drawbacks.

The breakthrough therapeutics currently available use mRNA–injectable genetic material that produces a therapeutic effect or vaccine effect, but once absorbed into the human body, mRNA breaks down rapidly.

Dr. Wickramasinghe, senior author on the paper, explains that mRNA’s linear shape makes it relatively unstable and lacks durability inside the body, limiting its potential use for diseases such as cancer.

Consequently, there is an increasing interest and excitement about another form of RNA, called circular or circRNA, which resembles a closed loop of genetic material, which makes it more durable. It has remained a mystery, however, how circular RNA functions inside cells.

Scientists have discovered how circular RNAs Therapeutics are transported from the nucleus of cells to the cytoplasm, where they are active. It is vital to understand this pathway in order to harness circRNA for therapeutic purposes, just as mRNA is harnessed for therapeutic purposes.

The mechanism resembles how some proteins are transported out of the nucleus rather than how other types of RNA are exported, explains Prof. Goodall.

This further demonstrates that circular RNAs, of which there are many types, perform important functions in the cell, which had been unclear for most circular RNAs discovered to date.

Now that this molecular mechanism is understood, it is possible to manipulate it for beneficial outcomes, such as disease therapies.

The COVID pandemic in 2017 heralded the arrival of the world’s first mRNA vaccines, but this research began as purely fundamental, blue sky discovery research, Wickramasinghe says.

In the opinion of Dr. Wickramasinghe, circRNAs will play an important role in underpinning the next generation of RNA-based therapeutics in ways no one could have predicted before.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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