Korean academics advocate RNA therapy for bio-advancement

2024.04.01 08:54:01 | 2024.04.01 09:10:47

[Courtesy of The National Academy of Sciences]이미지 확대

[Courtesy of The National Academy of Sciences]



South Korea should invest in and research ribonucleic acid (RNA) therapies to advance its biotechnology sector, according to an expert in the field of molecular biology.

“As seen from the Covid-19 pandemic, RNA therapeutics is a future technology with many benefits,” said Yim Jeong-bin, professor at Soonchunhyang University, during a forum hosted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and the Maeil Business Newspaper in Seoul, last week.

“Korea should make desperate investments in the field and carry out research if it wishes to become a developed country in the bio sector.”

RNA, a key genetic material along with DNA, plays critical roles in protein production and gene control, as well as genomic functions.

RNA therapies use these functions to treat diseases, including messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which played a key role in fighting the pandemic.

“RNA therapies are categorized based on how RNA is used in cells,” Yim said, citing categories such as RNA interference (RNAi) and antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies.

Following the success of the Covid-19 vaccine, RNA therapies have gained significant traction.

According to Pharma Project in Clinical Trials, clinical-stage RNA therapy pipelines reached 1,016 as of January, with the majority in preclinical stages - 74 percent of RNAi trials, 68 percent of ASO trials and 67 percent of mRNA trials are in preclinical stages. This indicates an increase in research and development (R&D) in this area.

The appeal of RNA therapies lies in their potential to rapidly develop vaccines against various pathogens, boasting over 90 percent efficacy within a year, contrasting with traditional vaccines‘ lengthy development timelines and lower efficacy rates. They are also perceived as safer and cost-effective compared to DNA therapies.

Despite its potential, Korea trails behind the United States, Germany, and other nations in RNA therapy clinical trials.

Korean companies engaged in R&D in the field include ST Pharm Co., OliX Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Bioneer Corp., are actively engaged in RNA-related R&D.

By Ko Jae-won and Chang Iou-chung

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]