An mRNA Platform for Cell-Specific Protein Translation


Inventors at the University of Missouri (MU) have developed an mRNA platform for cell-specific protein expression. This novel strategy, which can be used alone or in combination with additional measures, takes advantage of intrinsic cell- and tissue-specific attributes to ensure the mRNA delivered is translated into protein only in targeted cells and tissues, enabling an enhanced level of control in comparison to alternative methods.

Cell- and tissue-specific gene expression occurs biologically as the result of incredibly complex sets of interactions, including those that occur between DNA, RNA, and proteins, and the historical developmental path each cell or tissue has experienced. In research and in therapeutic applications the ability to artificially control cell- and tissue-specific gene expression is very attractive, as it offers a valuable tool to interrogate biological systems and potentially more effectively treat disease. While many approaches have been developed, including tissue-specific promoters, conditional expression systems, and others, invariably off-target gene expression occurs.

MU inventors have developed a novel mRNA design platform, which can be used alone or in combination with other approaches, that offers improved control over gene expression for research and therapeutic applications.


  • Therapeutic: Including mRNA-based vaccines and gene therapy.
  • Diagnostics: Cell- and tissue-specific imaging
  • Research: Cell- and tissue-specific gene expression


  • Decreased off-target effects
  • Enhanced target specificity for diagnosis and treatment

Patent Status
Patent pending

State of Development
Proof of concept demonstrated in mouse liver cancer cell lines

Xiao Heng and Zhenwei Song


Technology Manager
Brian Buntaine, MS, MBA
Senior Manager, Technology Transfer
Phone: 573-882-0470

Contact Information

Name: Brian Buntaine, MS, MBA

Title: Senior Manager, Technology Transfer

Department: MU Technology Advancement


Phone: 573-882-0470

Address: Columbia, Missouri 65211