AUG 12, 2016 2:35 PM PDT

Coaxing the Body to Make Its Own Medicines

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

DNA is often referred to as the ‘blueprint of life,' as it encodes the instructions for cells to grow, divide, and specialize - forming whole organisms. Arguably, the instructions tell cells how to make proteins crucial to these tasks. And proteins are quite important to normal cell functions. Indeed, deficiency of just a single protein can cause some severe and debilitating diseases.

A traditional treatment method for these types conditions has been to introduce artificial proteins back into the body (known as enzyme replacement therapy). But this has known efficacy limitations because artificial proteins can never fully replicate the power of body-made proteins.

To solve this problem, a Cambridge startup, known as Moderna Theraputics, wants to help people make medicines in their own cells. This involves treating patients with messenger RNA (mRNA) to trigger the body to make therapeutic proteins. Watch the video to find out how Moderna mRNAs are able to get past the body's immune system and to open a whole new field of truly ‘personalized' medicine.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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