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In 2017, scientists at Flagship Pioneering were exploring different kinds of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, focusing on an unusual form of the molecule that had a circular shape, rather than a linear strand with two ends.

“When I saw that, I got excited,” said Avak Kahvejian, a general partner at the Cambridge venture capital firm. “I thought it was a way the cell was making really robust, stable RNAs, which are usually very unstable.”

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