RNA - Essential For All Human Life: Therapies


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Ira Pastor, ideaXme exponential health ambassador and founder of Bioquark, interview Dr. Lorna Harries, Professor of Molecular Genetics at University of Exeter Medical School.

Ira Pastor Comments Today as we continue our discussions on ideaXme pertaining to the biological hierarchy of life, we are going to journey into what I refer to as the "metabolic architecture of the cell", and all of the fascinating dynamics that surround our genomes and allow the information encoded within to impact the on-going physiological states of our health, disease, and aging processes.

In doing so we will segue into a discussion around a category of biologic entities, broadly known as Ribonucleic acids (or RNA).


RNA is a polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles including coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.

Cellular organisms use one of the primary forms of RNA, messenger RNA (mRNA) to convey genetic information from our DNA to direct synthesis of specific proteins integral in appropriate gene expression across our cell lineages.

RNA silencing or "RNA interference" (RNAi) is the process by which protein production from a gene is turned off. The term "RNA therapeutics" means either the use of one of the other forms of regulatory RNAs (e.g., siRNAs, microRNA) directly as a therapeutic agent and/or the modulation of RNA-based processes with more traditional drugs (e.g. small molecules).

Because RNA is central to all biological processes, there are numerous potential avenues for addressing human disorders at the RNA level including many chronic degenerative diseases, infections, and even aging processes themselves.

Our guest today, who is an expert in this unique domain of biology and is going to take us further into the topic, is Professor Lorna Harries, Professor of Molecular Genetics, University of Exeter Medical School.

Dr. Lorna Harries

Dr. Harries has a PhD in Molecular Genetics from University College London, and set up the "RNA-Mediated Mechanisms of Disease Group" at the University of Exeter Medical School in 2006.

Her team has a special focus on how RNA biology can influence both normal and disease states, from large-scale "omics" approaches, down to detailed assessment of specific mechanisms in specific genes.

Dr. Harries leads the group's investigation into how and why we age, and the reason age is a major risk factor in diseases like Type-2 Diabetes. Her goal is to use the information the group uncovers to develop a new generation of anti-degenerative drugs.

As many age-related diseases have common roots, causes and mechanisms, which arise from the failure of a few basic health-maintenance mechanisms that decline in efficiency as we age, the Harries lab feels by focusing and by targeting them, they will eventually be able to target multiple age-related diseases at once.

Dr. Harries has written over 90 peer-reviewed articles and was awarded the Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Prize Lectureship in 2011. She is coordinator of the annual UEMS "Men in White" school outreach with Dr. John Chilton, an event that brings in year 9 students from schools stretching from South Devon to North Somerset and gives them hands-on experience of work in a research laboratory.

Dr. Harries is also is a STEMnet ambassador as well as an Exeter Catalyst Champion for Public Engagement.

On this show we will hear from Dr. Harries:

About her background, how she became interested in science, molecular biology, and how she finds herself at the forefront of RNA biology and therapeutics. The history of RNA therapeutics and why according to her recent Nature article "It's Time for Scientists to Shout About RNA Therapies." An overview of RNA splicing, the spliceosome, splicing factors, and their respective roles in human ageing. Her work in RNA regulation of human cellular senescence. Her work in RNA regulation of Type-2 Diabetes. Her future visions for her work.

Dr. Lorna Harries will be speaking at the following upcoming conferences:

6th Annual Middle East Diabetes Conference Dubai 29-30 Jan 2020

Splicing 2020 meeting Capirica 12-16 July 2020

Allergan Science of Aging meeting Monaco 30th March - 1st April 2020 (dates provisional!)

Longevity Leaders London April 21-22 2020

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