The discovery of catalytic RNA, also called ribozyme, has been of great importance to both research and industry.
An important catalyst: In addition to cutting and rejoining RNA, catalytic RNA probably plays a major role in many biological processes. Life processes often require intimate cooperation between proteins and RNA. In the future researchers will probably find that RNA rather than protein-enzymes plays the leading role in many of these processes.
Three-dimensional structure: There are clear indications that catalytic RNA possesses a specific three-dimensional structure in the same manner as enzyme proteins. As soon as scientists have described this structure, it will be easier to understand the chemical reaction mechanism for catalytic RNA.
Custom-designed ribozyme: Catalytic RNA is a new and powerful tool for gene technology. In the mail-house catalogues used by researchers one can find “canned ribozyme” – custom-designed enzymes which cut or join RNA molecules with high precision.
Medical drugs: Within biotechnology and medicine there are obvious applications for catalytic RNA. For example, genetically engineered plants can become virus resistant by producing a ribozyme which can cut and destroy the genetic material of the virus. One can also custom-design ribozymes which can search out infectious viruses and render them harmless. It might even become possible at some future date to cure hereditary diseases with the help of ribozymes.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.