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Companies developing RNA therapeutics are suddenly on the upswing in the biomedical world

Sarepta Theraputics Inc. moved from Washington state to offices in Cambridge in an effort to attract research talent.
Sarepta Theraputics Inc. moved from Washington state to offices in Cambridge in an effort to attract research talent.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

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After several years of waning enthusiasm for an approach to drug-making that was once called revolutionary, interest in RNA medicines is suddenly on the upswing, and Boston area start-ups are at the front of the resurgence.

The field got a high-octane boost last week when Watertown startup Dicerna Therapeutics Inc. — a company developing drugs using a gene-silencing technology called RNA interference — became the first Massachusetts biotech to go public this year.

Companies are deploying a range of technologies in the complex realm of RNA drugs. But the goal of all of them is to battle diseases such as cancer and rare genetic disorders by turning on and off the genes that regulate proteins in people’s cells.

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