What mRNA is and Its Potential to Deliver Treatments and Vaccines?
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mRNA simply stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. It carries genetic material from DNA in the nucleus of the cell to ribosomes to make proteins. It is called messenger RNA because it carries instructions to produce proteins from cell to cell.
So for how long has mRNA been around?
Well, it was discovered in 1961 when Brenner, as well as his colleagues, described the presence of unstable molecules, which copies information that the DNA has encoded and direct the production of proteins.
Recently, mRNA became widely discussed during the global pandemic, Covid-19, because of vaccines. The Covid-19 vaccines that Modern and Pfizer-BioNTech use mRNA technology to deal with the virus.
How does mRNA work?
Once mRNA instructs the cells to make foreign protein particles, it will start showing up on the surface of the cell. The presence of proteins helps to alert the immune system to create antibodies and mount defense to deal with possible infections.
This way, your body will learn to identify viral proteins as the enemy. And in the case of real viral infections, your immune system will be prepared to deal with them and avoid serious illnesses.
mRNA for Vaccinations
Thanks to their characteristics, mRNA has greatly interested vaccine developers. Vaccines aim to get the immune system to reach harmless versions or parts of germs so that your body becomes ready to fight when real infections invade.
Scientists have discovered an effective way to protect and introduce mRNA messages with a code for a part of the spike proteins on the SARS-CoV-2 surface of the virus.
The vaccine offers enough mRNA to make enough of the spike protein so that your immune can produce antibodies, which helps to protect you if you are exposed to infections or viruses.
Is mRNA Safe?
Every vaccine, including mRNA vaccines, undergo rigorous quality assurance and control protocols to guarantee their efficacy and safety. Quality testing is important to manufacturing and development processes.
Data from this quality test is submitted to the Food and Drugs Administration for review before vaccines become available.
Once vaccines are approved, the FDA and CDC continue monitoring their safety. Because of the health emergencies declared due to Covid-19, their vaccines were first monitored and authorized to be used for emergencies.
Currently, healthcare providers offer forms of mRNA vaccines. Formerly called the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Comirnaty® was approved for individuals over 12 years, while the Moderna vaccine is approved for people aged 18 years and above. For years, researchers have been studying and analyzing mRNA vaccines to avoid diseases like the following:
- Zika virus
- Influence (flu)
- CMV (Cytomegalovirus)
Researchers are also looking into mRNA vaccines so as to treat diseases such as cancer and MS (multiple sclerosis). These treatments use the same mRNA technological advancement to trigger the immune system so as to create antibodies. While they are not yet approved, these treatments are still in clinical examination.
The success of Covid-19 vaccines, approved three years ago, has made researchers optimistic about the new era in vaccination technology. Scientists have also demonstrated the versatility and potency of mRNA vaccines to protect people against infectious viruses like Zika, Ebola, and Influenza.