RNA Therapeutics:

As a member of the Center for RNA Therapeutics, we are housed inside the Houston Methodist Research Institute. The Kiss RNA Lab is committed to the translation of basic science discoveries to benefit human health. Shortly after the lab opened, we joined the Houston Methodist Research Insitute’s RNA Therapeutics program (now the Center for RNA Therapeutics) and began working on our first therapeutic candidate. We continue to work with the HMRI’s RNA Core to streamline and optimize their production processes and to develop cancer-targeting RNA therapeutics. Our lab has also been developing methods to increase the potency of RNA therapeutics. These include the design of both novel RNA constructs and novel RNA sequence elements that increase the functional lifespan and/or the translation potential of the RNA therapeutic within cells.

We currently have three RNA therapy projects underway.

Our first project is to use a circular RNA to counter genes driving oncogenic transformation and cell migration in an in vitro model of breast cancer. That work earned Dr. Kiss a Career Development Award titled “Construction of circular RNAs to block miRNA-driven oncogenic transformation” from The American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy. This project is nearing completion (anticipated in the first half of 2022).

Our second project, we are applying our expertise and experience with designing, developing, and evaluating second and third-generation RNA vaccines to prevent COVID-19. We have partnered with collaborators around the country to test our vaccine candidates and to move their development forward.  We have a SARS-CoV-2 Delta-specific vaccine construct in hand and an SARS-CoV-2 Omicron-specific vaccine construct under construction.  We are working with other collaborators to test the effectiveness of our candidates in pre-clinical models.

Finally, the lab has also been developing novel mRNA therapy candidates to target glioblastoma multiforme tumor cells. The basic premise is to use RNAs to oppose the effects of a key transcription factor that drives the proliferation and metastasis of a subset of glioblastoma tumors.

Current Support:

The Cancer Prevention Institute of Texas (1/2021 – 12/2025; RP200619; PI: Cooke, JP)
Houston Methodist Research Institute Career Cornerstone Award – 2020 (1/2021 – 12/2025; PI: Kiss, DL)

Past Support:

Houston Methodist Research Institute COVID-19 RNA Vaccine grant (4/2020 – 10/2021; PI: Kiss, DL)
Career Development Award from The American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (12/2019 – 11/2020; PI: Kiss, DL)
The Cancer Prevention Institute of Texas (3/2018 – 12/2020; RP150611; PI: Cooke, JP)

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