Unlocking the Mysteries of Extracellular RNA Communication
November 4, 2019
Unlocking The Mysteries of Extracellular RNA Communication DNA, the blueprint of life produces smaller molecules called RNA unique to each kind of cell. RNA translates the genes encoded in DNA into proteins and regulates which proteins are made. Through regulation of genes and proteins RNA controls the function of cells — often in long-lasting or permanent ways. Until recently RNA was thought to exert its influence only on the cell that produces it, however we’ve now learned that these powerful controllers can travel between cells and tissues altering cells at a distance. Extracellular RNAs or xRNAs travel in body fluids including fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, urine, and blood. The extent to which these xRNAs control cell behavior is not well understood. Recent research shows that healthy cells make different xRNAs than diseased cells. What if a cancer cell instructs a normal cell to become cancerous. Could we block cancer by blocking the xRNAs? What if scientists could harness the communication powers of xRNA to turn a diseased cell back into a healthy one. Scientists may be able to use xRNAs as new treatments for disease. They may also be able to use xRNAs to diagnose diseases earlier than currently possible. This new avenue of research holds enormous promise to understand a myriad of diseases and develop novel therapeutics. Our goals are to understand xRNAs and unlock the transformative potential that this new area of research holds for human health, disease diagnosis, and treatment.