This technology might block and destroy the coronavirus genome

April 30, 2020
Just two more days until the weekend. Today, we have a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, featuring a company using breakthrough RNA technology that might be able to block and destroy the genome of the coronavirus. We’re also looking at how biotech could save your…

Just two more days until the weekend. Today, we have a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, featuring a company using breakthrough RNA technology that might be able to block and destroy the genome of the coronavirus. We’re also looking at how biotech could save your summer stone fruits. Here are just under 800 words, just under 4 minutes.

This technology might block and destroy the coronavirus genome

In the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood chats with Dr. John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, who is using what he learned as a young scientist working on cures during the HIV crisis to find solutions for COVID-19 with the company’s RNA interference technology. 

RNA what? Alnylam is working on breakthrough RNA interference technology, which basically targets the RNA of the virus to destroy it and block its ability to replicate—and “turn off the faucet causing the flood,” as John explains it. 

There are two possible uses: treating people who are already infected or giving it prophylactically to at-risk people like health care workers and the elderly, “almost like a therapeutic vaccine.” 

Alnylam partnered with another BIO member, Vir Biotechnology—putting together an agreement in about a week, an unprecedented timeframe before the pandemic.

It’s a shining example of how the industry’s coming together. “I have never seen the industry working together in this fashion. We have all come together,” said John. 

And solving the crisis is the priority. “This is all about advancing the science, advancing these medicines for patients and for this pandemic and frankly, doing everything we can to address this societal need as quickly as possible.” 

Listen to the whole thing to learn more about how RNA interference works, why drug R&D is so risky, and what the public’s gotten wrong about the biopharmaceutical industry. 

Find the podcast at or anywhere you get your podcasts including Apple, Google, and Spotify.

Learn more about BIO members’ work and partnerships at


More Health Care News: 

POLITICO: FDA official steps into vaccine vacuum after BARDA shakeup
“Peter Marks trained as a cancer doctor and now directs the FDA office that oversees the approval of vaccines and gene therapies.” 

STAT: NIH announces $1.5 billion, ‘Shark Tank’-like initiative to accelerate COVID-19 testing
“Successful entrants will eventually be paired with manufacturers and business experts who can help to quickly scale up production of any tests developed during the project.” 

The Wall Street Journal: Race for coronavirus vaccine accelerates as Pfizer says U.S. testing to begin next week
“If further testing also proves successful, Pfizer could start distributing the vaccine on an emergency basis in the fall and receive approval for widespread distribution by year’s end.” 

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. explores emergency-use approval for Gilead drug after study found it helped recovery from COVID-19
“Gilead is in active discussions with the Food and Drug Administration about securing emergency authorization for remdesivir, Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said in an interview." 


Peaches have a problem

Pool days, baseball games, and beach vacations may be uncertain this summer, but we know we can look forward to tasty seasonal fruit like peaches—or can we? 

Peaches have a problem—and it’s called brown rot, a fungal disease that turns the surface of stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries brown and gray “like a mummy,” explains Innovature

And brown rot is tough to manage, requiring trimming infected branches and using fungicides—and losing a lot of fruit in the process, as much as 50% of some peaches, according to recent research

But biotech could save your peach pie. New research has identified the gene responsible for brown rot, which means scientists may be able to use gene editing to stop the expression of the gene, or even develop fruits resistant to it.

The problem? High regulatory barriers and widespread misinformation and negative perceptions about gene-editing technology makes it tough to get this kind of food to market.

This is why we continue our work on food biotech—explaining how gene-edited food and crops are safe, healthy, and can help solve food-related challenges.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Thursday: Meeting with the Governor of New Jersey then giving remarks at 4 PM ET on how to protect America’s seniors. White House Domestic Policy Adviser Joe Grogan, who worked on drug pricing, among other issues, has resigned.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: While still officially in recess, the House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee will hold a hearing on May 6 on the COVID-19 response. Meanwhile, the Senate is still planning to return to Washington next week, a move POLITICO calls a “public health gamble.”

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