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New Biotech Launched by Moderna Founder

Before last year, Moderna and BioNTech were not exactly household names. However, as the coronavirus spread across the world, their research into messenger RNA was thrust into the spotlight. Many countries’ best hope of ending the pandemic now rests on the successful vaccines produced by these firms.

In light of this, the biotech incubator that gave birth to Moderna launched a new company on Monday based on the therapeutic potential of RNA, the single-stranded messenger of genetic information. Laronde has received $50 million in support from Flagship Pioneering and has set a lofty target of revolutionising disease treatment through so-called eRNA, or endless RNA.

Messenger RNA gives cells the instructions for making the proteins they need. However, these instructions don’t last long because cells chew up stray or unused genetic material to maintain order and protect themselves from outside threats like viruses. eRNA is a ring, unlike traditional messenger RNA, which is linear.

This shape is so vital to Laronde that the company’s name is derived from the French word for “round.” Since eRNA has a ring structure, there are no loose ends for enzymes to grab onto and begin the dismantling process, which means it could theoretically stay active for longer, allowing protein expression to last weeks or months.

Diego Miralles, CEO and Partner at Flagship, said, “Imagine if we could give people a tiny bit of eRNA, and people could then manufacture their own self-healing proteins in their own body. Just think about how that would change how we think about medicines and what medicines are.”

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