The origin of life, “the World of RNA,” and the problem of antibiotic resistance

Sidney Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The studies of the Nobel laureate in Chemistry S. Altman changed the established scientific idea about RNA solely as a carrier of genetic information. Altman discovered the catalytic properties of RNA, which provided new opportunities for the development of genetic engineering, biochemistry, and medicine and played a key role in constructing a modern theory of the origin of life on Earth. He created a worldfamous laboratory at Yale University, where he and his colleagues studied the structure and properties of RNase P and RNA catalysis mechanisms. Scientists from different countries have participated in the work of this laboratory on study of post-transcriptional processing of RNA and have considered the possibilities of constructing a new type of gene-directed agents based on catalytic RNA for biomedical purposes. In the framework of the competition of megagrants of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Ministry of Education in 2013, S. Altman received a grant, thanks to which under his leadership the Russian–American Laboratory of Biomedical Chemistry was formed at the Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences. The laboratory is a consortium of young scientists working on solving interdisciplinary problems in the field of nucleic acid chemistry, biophysics, and microbiology. Laboratory staff have obtained unique analogs of oligonucleotides, which opens up new opportunities for creating modern therapeutic drugs and materials for diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-479
Number of pages6
JournalHerald of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • RNA
  • catalytic activity
  • central dogma of molecular biology
  • drug resistance
  • genetic code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Political Science and International Relations


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