The mRNA technology behind covid-19 vaccines can transform medicine

Covid-19 RNA vaccine, illustration. The vaccine consists of strands of mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) encased in a lipid nanoparticle sphere. The mRNA codes for a mutated version of the viral spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19. When injected into the body the mRNA is taken up by the body's cells, which manufacture copies of the protein. The proteins stimulate an immune response, causing the body to produce antibodies against the spike protein. This means that the body is primed to attack the virus should it be encountered after vaccination, preventing disease. The first RNA vaccine approved for human use, developed against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus by Pfizer/BioNTech, was approved in the UK on 2nd December 2020. 2DYDTXH Covid-19 RNA vaccine, illustration.

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AMID the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, there has at least been one piece of undeniably good news: the success of mRNA vaccines.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were developed in record time and they have proved extremely effective. They are saving many lives, but this is just the start of something huge.

Using the same approach could help us develop better vaccines for many diseases, including conditions for which we have no inoculation at present. And when the next pandemic comes, we should be able to get more of the world’s population vaccinated faster than we are managing this …

Read more at New Scientist

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