2023 marked a thrilling and transformative chapter for RNA and Eclipsebio, witnessing numerous breakthroughs in the RNA genomics sphere. From groundbreaking publications to the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the spotlight on RNA’s significance in biology and healthcare has shone brighter than ever. Concurrently, Eclipsebio achieved significant milestones, boasting recognition through more than 20 peer-reviewed publications and the successful launch of three cutting-edge full-service solutions, further empowering researchers in unraveling the intricacies of RNA biology and advancing therapeutic development. As the curtain falls on 2023, this eBlog takes a reflective dive into the evolving landscape of RNA discoveries that continue to reshape our world.
In October, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their work on the nucleoside modifications that made the COVID-19 vaccines possible. Before their work, mRNA vaccines used unmodified bases which led to a strong immune system response and attenuated protein production. They found that by incorporating pseudouridines, the immune system reaction was reduced increasing the level of produced protein. Moderna and Pfizer used their work to rapidly develop effective vaccines that saved millions of lives.
mRNA vaccines continue to be important aspects of our lives and new developments are promising to expand our capacity to treat diseases. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were updated to match new variants providing additional protection to people across the world. Moderna is continuing to test mRNA-1345, an mRNA vaccine against RSV in older adults, and a phase 2 clinical trial for an mRNA vaccine against pancreatic cancer has started enrollment. Over the next few years, we expect to see a sharp increase in the number of mRNA vaccine trials and approvals.
Important advances with other classes of RNA therapeutics also occurred in 2023. In April the FDA granted approval for Biogen’s QALSODY, an antisense oligonucleotide, for the treatment of ALS1. Biogen is also advancing BIIB080, also an antisense oligonucleotide, for the treatment of early-stage Alzheimer’s through clinical trials2. ASOs are not the only area of rapid development—Sirnaomics RNAi trials are continuing to progress with a successful completion of a phase I clinical trial in August3.
Our understanding of RNA biology has grown significantly over the past year. Amaral et al. provided an update on the status of human gene annotations including a discussion on how the translation of small open reading frames is blurring the distinction between coding and noncoding annotation. Sako et al. found that miRNAs can play regulatory roles in the rate of protein translation5 and He et al. explored how the architecture of exons controls the degree of m6A methylation on transcripts6. Eclipsebio products were also used to help discover new areas of biology such as Mackeown et al. who used eSHAPE to examine how the 5’ UTR can affect translation in a coronavirus7.
At Eclipsebio, we are thrilled to continue supporting our customers in making groundbreaking discoveries and developing life-saving therapies. As 2023 draws to a close, the enthusiasm for RNA biology remains unabated, and we anticipate that 2024 will further underscore the critical role of RNA in health and disease.
How can Eclipsebio assist you in unlocking the next wave of RNA discoveries?