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Funding period: 2019 - 2023

The Young Independent Researcher Group (YIRG) "bioSTAR" is a collaborative project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) - Project number: ZK 29-B21.

Significant advances in RNA research have brought this biomolecule in the spotlight of numerous scientific disciplines, therefore providing new opportunities for unraveling the biology of RNAs. Due to its key functions, enormous regulatory potential and association with various disorders, RNA has become an important target for diagnostics and drug design. Several molecular tools have been developed to target, manipulate and measure RNA and modulate its function. However, application of these strategies is still limited due to several reasons. Within bioSTAR we aim for the design and development of programmable chemical probes capable of selectively binding to a specific RNA sequence followed by a bioorthogonal reaction. This approach will improve the binding to target RNA and furthermore enable the regulation of gene expression, which – for example – can be used to design new antibiotics based on the genetic code of bacteria. Hence, such probes can rapidly be redesigned if bacterial resistance arises due to mutation of the target, and thus may enable the development of therapies against antibiotic-multiresistant bacteria. Furthermore, the bioorthogonal reaction can be designed in such a way that an active molecule is released right upon and induced by the binding to the target sequence. We aim to use this cleavage mechanism to achieve selective release of fluorescent reporters or highly potent drugs inside cells.