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Imagine that, instead of taking a pill or getting an injection, your body could make its own medicines. This is now possible by providing a code based on messenger RNA, or mRNA, which functions as a blueprint for making the drug. The challenge is to get that code to the right place in the body. For example, we can put the mRNA code into fat droplets, but when we administer those fat droplets via the blood, almost all of them end up in the liver. And to treat diseases such as autoimmune diseases or cancer, we actually want to deliver that mRNA code to other organs in the body, such as the bone marrow. The bone marrow contains immune cells, and the mRNA codes can be used to activate the immune cells so they go after diseased cells. That is why I am looking at natural building blocks, such as fats, which the body also uses for transport. We package the mRNA code in using microfluidic chips. In this way, we can develop formulations that bypass the liver as far as possible and accumulate in other organs such as the bone marrow. In the future, we will be able to give patients tailor-made treatments, literally making their own medicine.

MAKING YOUR OWN TAILOR-MADE DRUGS
ROY VAN DER MEELPROFILE
Eindhoven University of Technology

Imagine being able to make your own drugs. Roy van der Meel is investigating whether he can use natural building blocks such as fats to transport mRNA codes around the body. He hopes that in the future he will be able to give patients tailor-made treatments, literally making their own medicine.

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