Step Aside, DNA. It’s RNA’s Time To Shine.

Episode 790,   Jun 10, 08:00 PM

The COVID vaccines proved that RNA could be extremely powerful. A new book explores even more medical applications for the tiny molecule.

DNA has long been studied and understood as the genetic blueprint for life on Earth. And related scientific endeavors, like the Human Genome Project, have received enormous attention. But DNA’s lesser-known counterpart, RNA, which translates the instructions from those blueprints into proteins in our cells, has received far less focus.

But a lot’s changed in the last few years. The success of the mRNA COVID vaccines has led to a renewed interest in the potential medical therapies for this tiny molecular powerhouse, with applications ranging from CRISPR gene-editing to an mRNA-based cancer vaccine.

Dr. Thomas Cech, distinguished professor in biochemistry at University of Colorado, Boulder, and the author of the book The Catalyst: RNA and the Quest to Unlock Life’s Deepest Secrets, joins Ira Flatow to tell us how why RNA has gotten the shorter end of the research stick for so long, how it could help us understand the origins of life, and why this misunderstood molecule might be the key to a next generation of big scientific discoveries.

Read an excerpt from The Catalyst: RNA and the Quest to Unlock Life’s Deepest Secrets at

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