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Home arrow News arrow Scientists Revealed How Circular RNA Will Become the Breakthrough Drug of the Future

Scientists Revealed How Circular RNA Will Become the Breakthrough Drug of the Future

HealthReporter author Nadzeya Sankovich
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Last update: October 6, 2023
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Scientists Revealed How Circular RNA Will Become the Breakthrough Drug of the Future
  • RNA, like tiny messengers in our cells, is getting an upgrade. Scientists believe they could stay in our bodies longer by making them into circles.
  • Biotech companies think it could be a game-changer for making medicines work better, from vaccines to treatments for diseases like cancer. 

RNA vaccines, the champions of the COVID-19 battle, broke records with the most successful drug launches ever and even earned this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. 

However, a drawback was noted: regular linear RNA has a short lifespan and is quickly broken down by cell enzymes. Here’s where circular RNAs, often called circRNAs, enter the scene.

How Circular RNA Transforms Cellular Communication

Imagine your body is a big city, and inside each cell is a tiny instruction manual that tells the cell what to do. 

This manual is made up of something called RNA. It’s like a messenger that carries important messages to help the cell build what it needs. 

RNA technology means using these messengers to teach our body to do something helpful, like fight off germs.

Usually, these messengers (RNA) are straight lines, and they can get broken down quickly in the body. However, scientists found a way to make them into circles, like a loop. 

When they’re in a circle, they can last longer and not get damaged too quickly, which means circRNAs might be even better for helping our bodies. 

Why rings of RNA could be the next big thing

A recent article in Nature tells about a new development in RNA technology involving circular RNAs. 

The scientists highlight ongoing efforts to optimize and harness the potential of circRNAs in drug development, with some companies already conducting human trials.

They prove that regular RNA used in vaccines has a short lifespan, but circRNAs, formed by tying the ends of an RNA transcript together, can be more stable. 

Biotech firms are investing heavily in this technology, seeing potential in various therapeutic applications. For example, in 2022, a global pharmaceutical company Merck invested $150 million in circular RNA drug making.

However, some experts are concerned about possible immune reactions, fearing our bodies may react in ways that could be harmful. There is a need for further research to establish the superiority of circRNAs over other therapeutic approaches. 

Why It’s Important to You

  • Circular RNAs are like messengers that stick around longer in our bodies. Using them will make traditional medicines work better and last longer.
  • Circular RNAs could change the way we treat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and even genetic disorders.


  1. Dolgin, E. (2023, October 4). Why rings of RNA could be the next blockbuster drug. Nature.
  2. Fidler, B. (2022, August 16). Merck pays startup Orna $150M as ‘circular RNA’ attracts industry interest. BioPharma Dive.
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Nadzeya Sankovich is the Vice President of Communications at Health Reporter. Previously a professional journalist, she continues to write scientific articles and conduct research. With a background in sociology and medicine, she has worked with various healthcare organizations, from charities to telemedicine platforms.

Nadzeya is also a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a volunteer for a non-profit organization that helps underserved communities. Through her work, she empowers people to take charge of their health and well-being.
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