As medical research progresses, traditional treatment protocols are being rapidly exhausted. New approaches to treat diseases that do not respond to conventional drugs are the need of the hour. In search for these approaches, science has turned to a wide range of potential answers, including artificial nucleic acids. Artificial or xeno nucleic acids are similar to naturally occurring nucleic acids (think DNA and RNA) — but are produced entirely in the laboratory.
Xeno nucleic acids are essential for the development of nucleic acid-based drugs. To be effective, they need to be able to stably bind to natural RNA (a cellular single-stranded version of the DNA, which is essential for all body processes). However, it is unclear how, if at all, RNA hybridizes with these xeno nucleic acids. A new study by researchers from Japan sheds light on this mechanism, opening doors to the development of potentially revolutionary nucleic acid-based drugs.