MIT scientists Matthew Angel (former Hugh Hampton Young fellow) and Mehmet Fatih Yanik have discovered a method for transfecting mRNA into fibroblasts without triggering the immune response that normally defends cells against exogenous RNA infection. Cells are usually able to differentiate between endogenous and exogenous RNA through activation of pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) that initiate a subsequent immune response. While this immune response is important for defending cells against unwanted viral RNA invasion, it also serves as a barrier for scientists interested in delivering protein-encoding mRNA into cells for a variety of purposes.
Why the need to deliver mRNA into cells? Why not just deliver DNA as is normally done utilizing traditional transfection techniques? Or, better yet, why not just skip the translational step altogether and deliver protein directly to the cells? Read the rest of the article in American Biotechnologist.