This week the New York Times published an article announcing a $240M investment by Astra Zeneca in Moderna Therapeutics, a start-up company founded by HSCI Principal Faculty Derrick Rossi. As the Times says, "It is one of the largest ever initial payments in a pharmaceutical industry licensing deal that does not involve a drug already being tested in clinical trials."
The idea behind the company started several years ago when HSCI funded a project in Rossi's lab focused on using modified RNA to reprogram stem cells. Not only was this successful and a breakthrough in itself, but it had the huge, originally unanticipated benefit of being able to be used to create a new class of drugs. As the article describes, the company now has ten's of drugs in development based on using synthetic versions of messenger RNA to produce needed proteins in cells, without causing an immune reaction or risk of long-term integration into the cell's DNA, two major issues that had blocked the field thus far.
Click here to read the article.