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The Medical Revolution of Messenger RNA

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2023-10-17
  • Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

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From the Foreword
by Thomas R. Cech, Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado Boulder
Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989

Delaye's account of messenger RNA medicines is remarkable in several ways. As a non-scientist, Delaye has worked diligently to understand the concepts of molecules and cells, of DNA, RNA and protein, of lipids and nanoparticles. Because he remembers how he struggled to understand these concepts, he tailors his descriptions to help his non-scientist readers overcome the hurdles.

Furthermore, Delaye is unabashedly enthusiastic about mRNA. Even as he relates all the years that mRNA went unappreciated and was disparaged as a potential pharmaceutical, Delaye is in the stands of the stadium rooting for team RNA. As an RNA scientist, I find this enthusiasm for RNA to be obvious; and when I attend an RNA conference, the feeling is unanimous. Yet it's exciting to see a non-scientist so enthusiastic about the bashful daughter of DNA.

Finally, Delaye tells stories about the scientists making the discoveries as much as the research itself. An unruly lot these mRNA scientists are! If the reader has been envisioning scientists as calm, studious eggheads moving about calmly in white lab coats, that view will be debunked in every chapter. Delaye relates how scientists deal with the disappointment and setbacks that inevitably accompany research at the frontiers of knowledge. He describes how competition between laboratories simultaneously speeds progress and enrages some of the competitors. And how, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrives and the health of the world is at stake, the intense competition is tempered by some timely cooperation.

Author Biography

Fabrice Delaye is a science and technology journalist based in Switzerland. He was U.S. correspondent at the daily Swiss newspaper L'Agefi, science and technology editor at magazine Bilan, and is now a reporter-at-large for Heidi.news in Geneva. He is a graduate of the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris and has a master's degree from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne, EPFL.

When COVID-19 imposed its relentless grip on the global population and messenger RNA-based vaccines came to the rescue in seemingly record time, Delaye realized that their development could not have been as simple and quick as people wanted to believe. But it was not until he went in pursuit of the origins of mRNA technologies that he uncovered a dramatic story that had never been told.

Maximizing his decades of contacts and his unique grasp of the science and the stakes involved, Delaye set out to document the long, harrowing, unlikely but ultimately triumphant road to discovery of RNA-based technology with the potential to transform the world far beyond the pandemic.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Thomas R. Cech

Introduction: What Happens When the Jab Goes Into Your Arm?

Prologue: 1960 -1990: The Beatles Years of mRNA

1. From Science to Technology at the Salk Institute
2. RNA or DNA? How Merck Missed the Jackpot
3. How French RNA Pioneers Killed the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs
4. How Karikó and Weissman Wove an Invisibility Cloak
5. CureVac: How the German Hare Became a Tortoise
6. Moderna's Moonshot
7. The Race for mRNA Vaccines Told by its Referee
8. BioNTech: What's Next?
9. Lipids: The Key to the Third Medical Revolution

Selected Bibliography

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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