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Synthetic Biology of mRNA

Project description

Exploiting non-standard forms of mRNA

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is responsible for translating genetic information into proteins, which are the key drivers of biological processes. However, so far we are only scratching the surface when it comes to exploiting the application potential of these molecules. Scientists of the EU-funded NEWmRNA project argue that a new approach to studying and producing standard and non-standard forms of mRNA is needed given its emerging role in vaccination, chemistry, diagnostics and pest control. Therefore, they will follow a synthetic biology approach for studying and manufacturing mRNA with biological value.


mRNA is a major actor in the expression of cellular information, but we can only wield it in the very narrow boundaries imposed upon us by the transcriptional machinery and our lack of knowledge of the chemical scope of mRNA translation inhuman cells. Given the diverse role of mRNA in major life science applications from vaccination via gene therapy, chemistry, and diagnostics to pest control in agriculture, we argue that we are missing a huge opportunity to improve the outcome of medical therapies, broaden chemical catalysis, advance medical diagnostics, and reduce the human footprint in agriculture. With a focus on medical applications, NEWmRNA proposes to follow a synthetic biology approach to redraw the chemical map of the translation of mRNAs in human cells and at the same time to transform biological mass production of mRNAs. In the course of the project, we will implement a novel cellular assay to rapidly assess the impact of non-canonical forms of mRNA on translation and cellular signaling, re-engineer enzymatic mRNA synthesis via T7 RNA polymerase, introduce the concept of cloaked bioproduction in bacteria – the production of protected forms of instable molecules, coupled to enzymatic recovery post production – and introduce crucial steps for industrial-scale production of mRNA.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 484 177,50
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (5)