Note — Feb 21, 2021

The Next Act for Messenger RNA Could Be Bigger than Covid Vaccines

Seen in → No.161

Source → technologyreview.com/2021/02/05/1017366/mes...

There’s a good chance you’ve already read something like this piece at the MIT Technology Review, about how they make the covid vaccines; I’m including this one because I found the explanation quite well done and especially liked the second part. The author and Dr. Weissman delve into the next stages of what might be done with this technology, like “a treatment that packages CRISPR into RNA and then into a nanoparticle” with the hope of also curing various genetic diseases.

The potency of the shots, and the ease with which they can be reprogrammed, mean researchers are already preparing to go after HIV, herpes, infant respiratory virus, and malaria—all diseases for which there’s no successful vaccine. […]

Also on the drawing board: “universal” flu vaccines and what Weissman calls a “pan-coronavirus” shot that could offer basic protection against thousands of pathogens in that category, which have led not only to covid-19 but, before that, to the infection SARS and probably other pandemics throughout history. […]

[A] treatment that packages CRISPR into RNA and then into a nanoparticle, with which it hopes to cure a painful inherited liver disease. The aim is to make the gene scissors appear in a person’s cells, cut out the problem gene, and then fade away. The company tested the drug on a patient for the first time in 2020.