The rapid development of mRNA vaccines to combat COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of this single-stranded molecule. Although there have been some costly developmental bumps along the way, interest in RNA-targeted therapies is once again surging.
RNA has “huge potential” as a therapeutic modality and is beginning to deliver on that potential. But “manufacturing RNA has issues in production, delivery and performance,” Thomas Barnes told BioWorld. Barnes is the CEO of startup Orna Therapeutics LLC, which has the goal of addressing those issues with oRNA, an engineered form of circular RNA.
By combining synthetic biology and RNA therapy, the team at startup Strand Therapeutics Inc. hopes to make mRNA therapy more effective. Strand recently announced an immuno-oncology deal with Beigene Ltd. that netted the company $5 million to begin with and could end up being worth more than $250 million. Beyond immuno-oncology, the company’s basic technology could be broadly useful for both mRNA- and cell-based therapies.