‘Epitranscriptomics’: New field aims to treat cancer through RNA code

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2-25-2019 download
Image credit: Bio Space

It’s not every day that a biotech investor stumbles across an entirely new field of science. And frankly, Carlo Rizzuto wasn’t even looking for such a thing.

In 2012, [RNA scientist Samie Jaffrey’s] lab invented a method to map the location of methyl groups that, for some reason, cells were adding to their mRNA. It was reminiscent of another field, called epigenetics, or the study of chemical modifications made to DNA to turn genes on or off. The entirety of RNA in a cell is called the transcriptome, so Jaffrey dubbed the new field “epitranscriptomics.”

Rizzuto perked up. “This is something that we would be very interested in,” he said.

Related article:  Personalizing pancreatic cancer treatment by growing, treating tumors in a dish

Several groups, including Jaffrey’s, have shown that the epitranscriptomic code—the number and location of chemical modifications across a cell’s RNA—is seriously out of whack in some cancers. And with basic tools in hand to read this previously hidden layer of information in cells, biotech companies are now out to alter it. Three start-ups, including one that Jaffrey and Rizzuto helped found, called Gotham Therapeutics, have launched with more than $110 million in total dedicated to epitranscriptomics drug discovery.

Read full, original post: Epitranscriptomics: The new RNA code and the race to drug it

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