RNA Therapeutics: A New Paradigm for Drug Development? Tim Mercer, BASE Lab, U of Queensland

Tim Mercer, Director of the BASE Lab at the University of Queensland

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0:00 Enzymatic synthesis a quantum shift

6:11 Experience with a benchtop synthesizer

10:31 Manufacturing and developing RNA therapeutics at BASE Lab

16:20 Advantages to RNA drugs- a new paradigm in drug development?

22:32 Technologies on the horizon

Has the pandemic unleashed the molecule of RNA to be the new future of drug development?

Tim Mercer is the Director of the BASE Lab at the University of Queensland which has recently become one of Australia’s leading national facilities for the manufacture and research of RNA technologies. Tim is the next guest in our series on enzymatic DNA synthesis which he says is "a quantum shift” in our ability to synthesize DNA.

Tim then goes on to explore the future of mRNA vaccines and other RNA therapeutics.

"There is a change in how the drugs are developed. It allows us to target diseases in ways that current drug development has been unable to address.”

For example, Tim discusses mRNA cancer vaccines and vaccines for rare diseases that are truly customized treatments.

"We can deliver a corrected version of a gene to the patient which is then expressed and translated in their cells and produces the corrected protein to clear the toxic metabolic products and essentially treat the disease. We're designing a particular drug to treat the disease."

If this isn’t trippy enough, we finish with a discussion of applications in synthetic biology. For Tim, it’s all the same thing whether it’s clinical applications or agriculture or industry.

“It’s all a spectrum,” he says.