Targeting mRNA for the treatment of infectious diseases is not a new concept. But previous attempts have failed through lack of specificity to appropriate binding sites. RiboTargets Ltd. believes it has solved that problem with technology focused on the interactions between RNA and its regulatory proteins, such as those that attach ribosomes before translation, or move RNA around the cell. The company also has developed three-dimensional computer simulations of RNA binding sites to find small molecules with the correct structure to be specific.

"Historically there is skepticism," said CEO Simon Sturge. However, he said that researchers are rethinking the utility of targeting mRNA based on RiboTargets' identification of small molecule Tat inhibitors. These inhibitors prevent Tat from binding to TAR RNA, a protein associated with the translation of HIV mRNA into new viral proteins, which in turn prevents replication