The RNA world idea within the origin of life field centres around the observation that the RNA molecule can do both: carry information (e.g., mRNA) and perform catalytic reactions (e.g., the ribosome – the protein synthesis factory in our cells).For the RNA world hypothesis to be true, there must have been some “intermediate ”complex assemblies between simple RNA building blocks and fully functional RNA catalytic/self-replicating systems. Having worked on peptide-gels for over a decade,we noted that recent studies in biology suggested that peptides and RNA readilyform gel like structures under certain conditions. We have therefore been investigating if gel formation from short RNA and peptide molecules could form gel-like aggregates and ultimately, if these could provide a pre-biotic chemistry relevant path to for a proto-ribosome to chemically evolve from the pre-biotic soup of chemicals.
Having also worked for a decade within the field of nanomedicine and targeted delivery with nanoparticles, the potential important of understanding better how peptides could also aid in the delivery of RNA therapeutics was not lost on us. Having first approached our state government in 2019, the recent pandemic and the successful deployment of mRNA vaccines then enabled us to rally scientists for Universities and Medical research organisation from across the state, and work with like-minded groups in other states, to advance the vision of making Australia a powerhouse in the emerging RNA ecosystem.