Thought Leadership

Precision Medicine Unveiled: CRISPR, AI, and the Promising Era of Regulatory Genome Targeting  

By – Purnima Hariharan Geetha  

In the ever-evolving realm of biotechnology, a groundbreaking frontier awaits those bold enough to venture beyond the boundaries of traditional drug development. It is a world where the insignificant, the non-coding RNAs, hold immense potential to transform the treatment landscape and revolutionize patient care. This untapped reservoir of genetic material, once dismissed as the “Dark Genome” has emerged as a captivating focal point of discussion among physicians, researchers, and biotechnologists as 70% of the genome encodes RNA, while current therapeutics primarily target only 2% of the genome. With the realization that non-coding regions of the genome play a crucial role in disease, a new paradigm is taking shape—one that demands our utmost attention and exploration. The concept of the “Regulatory Genome,” a term carefully coined to replace the previously labeled “Dark Genome,” encapsulates the vast expanse of non-coding regions that have long been overlooked. No longer can we underestimate the significance of these silent segments of genetic material. They hold within them a plethora of untapped possibilities, waiting to be harnessed for the betterment of human health.  

The world of translational medicine is on the brink of a revolution thanks to the potential of regulatory non-coding RNAs as therapeutic targets. I got the opportunity to interact with company leaders and researchers at the BIO (Biotech­nol­o­gy In­no­va­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion) 2023 conference who are fascinated by the selectivity and small molecule modality in binding to RNA, especially long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). By understanding the mechanisms of regulatory RNAs and ensuring their safety as targets, the field of medicine could be transformed forever. NextRNA’s CEO Dominique Verhelle discovered that lncRNAs have a shorter half-life than other peptides used as drug transporters, which is a promising sign for targeting the Dark Genome. Serna Bio and Unravel Biosciences are using the power of AI to develop small molecules that can target traditionally undruggable proteins and lncRNAs, mapping the druggable transcriptome and discovering novel targets for various disorders. These companies represent a paradigm shift in drug development, opening a vast landscape of RNA biology for exploration.  

Novasenta is a leading cancer research organization that uses single-cell RNA analysis and advanced data mining techniques to discover new therapeutic targets. Their innovative approach involves analyzing high-quality human tumor samples at the single-cell RNA level to speed up the path from target discovery to drug development. Novasenta’s pipeline includes next-generation immuno-oncology targets and drug candidates, offering the immense potential to transform cancer treatments and patient outcomes. Atomic AI, a new biotech company, combines artificial intelligence and structural biology to advance RNA drug discovery. Their R&D platform utilizes deep learning algorithms and purpose-designed wet-lab assays to identify novel structural targets across transcripts of interest, giving researchers opportunities to develop customized RNA medicines. This groundbreaking technology has accelerated the development of RNA-based therapies, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and biotechnology researchers are eager to explore the potential of precision therapies.  

The combination of CRISPR and AI has opened new possibilities for drug discovery. Algen, a company specializing in platform therapeutics and drug discovery, uses these technologies to identify disease-causing RNA messages. By utilizing these advanced tools, Algen aims to find potential treatments for various diseases, including cancer and inflammation. Their collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies and the internal drug development pipelines position them as leaders in the next generation of CRISPR-based platform development. NeoImmuneTech (NIT) focuses on immuno-oncology, using the body’s immune function to address resistance mechanisms in cancer and infectious diseases. Their expertise is in Interleukin-7 (IL-7), which enhances immune function. NIT’s flagship product, NT-I7, is a clinical-stage long-acting human IL-7 that aims to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with life-threatening and debilitating diseases. NIT prioritizes scientific advancement and a patient-centered approach to improve therapeutic outcomes and make a lasting impact on healthcare.  

The study of non-coding RNAs and the Regulatory Genome is opening a whole new world for drug development. This presents exciting opportunities to transform the medical field and save countless lives. Companies such as Serna Bio, Unravel Biosciences, Novasenta, Atomic AI, Algen, and NeoImmuneTech are continuously pushing scientific boundaries to bring RNA-based therapies and precision medicine closer to reality. By combining innovative technologies, artificial intelligence, and a deep understanding of the regulatory genome, we can revolutionize the way we fight diseases and improve human health. The future looks promising!  


Yazdani, K., Jordan, D., Yang, M., Fullenkamp, C. R., Schneekloth, J. S., Calabrese, D. R., Boer, R. E., Hilimire, T. A., Timothy Craig Allen, & Khan, R. T. (2022). Machine Learning Informs RNA‐Binding Chemical Space**. 62(11).  


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