The RNAissance period.
The concept that RNA has played a major role in the evolution of life stems from the "RNA World" hypothesis. This role of RNA was not immediately appreciated. Similarly, the scientific community has just recently begun to recognize the true potential of RNA as the drug of choice for gene therapy, cellular reprogramming and vaccination. While it is perhaps the most unstable of the three most commonly used biotherapeutics, the others being DNA and protein, the advantages that using RNA presents are now being realized at a high rate. The development of methods to protect it from degradation and deliver it in vivo has fueled more research into uses that were once considered heretical. In this age of enlightenment we are seeing significant investments in the 'RNA approach' both in academia and industry. Thus, along with developing RNA encoding antigens for vaccine development for cancer and infectious diseases, RNA is now used to program cells in vivo or ex vivo. In the following review we have chosen to highlight a few of the most recent studies that use RNA as a means to alter a disease state. These papers were chosen to indicate the breadth of research that is ongoing and hopefully to inspire others to consider new ways to treat cancer, infectious disease, or genetic disorders with RNA-based approaches.
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