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Haya Therapeutics
Samir Ounzain
The dark genome as the next revolution in drug discovery
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Most of our genome does not code for any protein, which led us to believe that 98% of our genetic material was useless.

But what was initially termed as the “dark side of the genome” (which Star Wars fans will certainly appreciate!) turns out to play a crucial role in modulating our biology.

It is in fact the software translating environmental factors (e.g. air quality, lifestyle, stress, etc.) into biological mechanisms, which can either lead to the proper functioning of our body or to certain illnesses.

The stakes and the potential around its use to develop new treatments are therefore immense!

And this is exactly what HAYA Therapeutics has been focusing on over the past few years: leveraging the science behind the “dark genome” to develop revolutionary treatments for chronic diseases, starting with heart failure.

The promise compared to traditional approaches?

  • More effective and targeted effects, focusing on one type of tissue only

  • Lower therapy development costs due to shorter development processes

So what stands behind this mysterious concept exactly? What is the science behind it? And how can this drive the development of new therapies to address some of the most widespread conditions across the globe?

In this new episode of Impulse, learn all about this fascinating field in the words of Samir Ounzain - CEO from HAYA Therapeutics - on a mission to radically change the way we approach drug discovery and development.

Passionate and didactic, he unveils the secrets of the “dark genome”, the influence of our surrounding environment on our genetics, and how we could leverage our understanding of this field to treat chronic diseases in a new way!


  • 02:32 - Samir’s background and how he got passionate about genetics

  • 08:30 - What the “dark genome” is actually about

  • 11:38 - How our understanding of the “dark genome” sparked the idea of what will become HAYA Therapeutics

  • 25:30 - How HAYA Therapeutics aims to address heart failure

  • 32:47 - Longevity and other applications on the long run

  • 36:42 - How such new treatment would be delivered

What we also talked about with Samir:

We cited with Samir some of the past episodes from the series:

As mentioned in the episode, you can learn more about HAYA Therapeutics through their website and their approach here.

You can also follow their activities on LinkedIn or Twitter!

For further information about the dark side of the genome and the science behind it, we’d recommend you to check out the book from John Mattick and Paulo Amaral entitled “RNA the Epicenter of Genetic Information”, as well as the interview of Manolis Kelis on Lex Fridman Podcast. A recent article by the BBC featuring Samir also details out what the dark genome is about and goes quite deep into the topic, worth checking out as well!

If you want to get in touch with Samir, feel free to contact him per email at, on LinkedIn or Twitter.

In case you want to give me feedback on the episode or the podcast in general, ask questions or suggest potential guests, feel free to do so through LinkedIn or per email at

If you liked the episode, please share it, subscribe to the podcast and leave a 5-star review on streaming platforms!

We also invite you to follow our activities through our website, LinkedIn and Instagram pages!

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