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For decades, scientists have dreamed about the possibilities of using messenger ribonucleuc acid -otherwise known as mRNA- to treat some of the world’s deadliest diseases, reports Olivia Gavoyannis. 

The theory behind their hopes was a solid one. In the natural world, the body relies on millions of proteins to keep itself alive, and it uses mRNA to tell cells which proteins to make. So, the idea was, if scientists worked out how to manipulate the body’s mRNA, they could create any protein they wanted – to fight infection, mend damaged tissue or reverse a rare disease.