mRNA - the 51st anniversary of discovery


In May, we celebrated the 51st anniversary of the ground-breaking discovery of messenger RNA. Two French scientists first suggested its existence: Jacques Monod and François Jacob. Messenger RNA is not only a molecule important for the transmission of genetic information coded in the DNA, but we also recently witnessed its first mRNA applications as a therapeutic. The most poted vaccines for COVID19 were generated using this methodology.

IIMCB makes significant contribution in the research development in this area.

At the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, several laboratories are conducting research focusing on messenger RNA and other classes of RNA.  

  • The Bujnicki team studies the structure of regulatory elements in human mRNAs and their interactions with proteins, particularly RNA modification enzymes. They are also collaborating with the Polish company Molecure to develop a unique platform for the discovery of candidate small molecule drugs that interact directly with disease-related mRNA variants."

  • The Michlewski team leads Dioscuri Centre for RNA-Protein Interactions in Human Health and Disease. They investigate the immune response to RNA viruses such as influenza virus. They are also studying the biological control and pharmacological regulation of mRNAs implicated in the etiology of Parkinson’s disease.

  • The Dziemowski team, an ERA chairs laboratory, is studying the mechanism of mRNA degradation. In the case of therapeutic mRNA stability is the major limitation for its expansion into other applications. Prof. Dziembowski is leading a large consortium, Horizon of Excellence in mRNA Applications in ImmunoOncology [HERO], funded by Virtual Research Institute with the aim to improve the therapeutic mRNA design and apply it to cancer immunotherapy. The interdisciplinary consortium encompasses senior researchers from our Institute (Nowotny and Miączyńska), University of Warsaw (Kowalska and Jemielity), Medical University of Warsaw (Nowis and Gołąb), Institute of Physical Chemistry (Hołyst)

  • The Nowotny team is studying a specific group of enzymes, reverse transcriptases which are encoded by viruses to convert their genetic material from a form of RNA into DNA, which can then integrate into our genome. Inhibitors of such enzymes are potent antiviral drugs.

  • The Winata team is studying the molecular programs which regulates the expression of specific mRNAs essential for embryonic development, using zebrafish as a model organism.