Talk Session: OPENING PLENARY KEYNOTE LECTURE
Date: Saturday, June 11, 2022
Talk Time: 06:10 pm – 07:15 pm
Talk Title: mRNA as Medicine
Distinguished Professor and Industry Executive with extensive expertise in post-transcriptional regulation of mammalian gene expression. After 23 years running an academic research laboratory, 19 of them as an HHMI Investigator, Melissa moved to industry in 2016 to become the CSO of Platform Research at Moderna. Accolades include National Academy of Science, 2017, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2019, 100 Fiercest Women in Biotech, 2018, and PharmaVoice 100, 2019.
A new class of drugs wherein cells are programmed with synthetic messenger RNAs, mRNAs, to make any desired protein, for example, cytoplasmic, intraorganelle, membrane-bound, and/or secreted, is an emergent technology with tremendous promise.
The ability to simultaneously deliver multiple mRNAs species enables production of multiprotein complexes in their native state. mRNA therapeutics already in or soon to enter the clinic include mRNA-based vaccines, both prophylactic and therapeutic, pro-inflammatory cytokines as anticancer agents, an angiogenic factor for blood vessel regrowth in damaged heart muscle, and protein replacement therapies for treatment of metabolic diseases.
Nonetheless, how to combat mRNA's inherent chemical and biological lability, how to direct therapeutic mRNAs to desired cell types, and how to enable repeat dosing without eliciting adverse immune reactions remain challenges for the field?
I will discuss recent progress at Moderna in overcoming these challenges, with particular emphasis on our development of new technologies optimized for functional mRNA delivery.