mRNA vaccines: A new era of disease prevention

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mRNA vaccines: A new era of disease prevention

mRNA vaccines: A new era of disease prevention

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mRNA vaccines have the potential to revolutionize mass immunizations forever
    • Author:
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      Quantumrun Foresight
    • November 11, 2021

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    mRNA vaccines may usher in a new era in disease prevention. Traditional vaccines use a weakened version of the infectious pathogen. When injected, the immune system attacks these pathogen particles and memorizes their structure. So, if a vaccinated person is ever exposed again, their immune system is already trained to combat the disease. The new messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines use small molecules within the cells to create critical pathogenic proteins. The development of mRNA vaccines has potential benefits in treating several diseases, including cancers, infectious, and viral infections. 

    mRNA vaccines context

    Instead of a weakened live pathogen, the new technology of vaccines uses small molecules called mRNA to familiarize the immune system with a disease-causing agent. In the body, these molecules are responsible for creating proteins by delivering instructions to the protein-building mechanism of the cell. The vaccines inject mRNA specifically for proteins found on a pathogenic particle. That means mRNA vaccines for the COVID-19 disease contains mRNA molecules that create the characteristic spike protein found on the virus. 

    mRNA vaccine technologies have been in the works for almost three decades, with initial development in the 1990s when RNA was injected into mice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since then, many hurdles have been overcome to make this technology feasible for mass immunizations. That hurdles include having a detailed understanding of how DNA and mRNA molecules work to make proteins, the ability to manufacture specific mRNA in a laboratory setting, and ensuring that the mRNA generates the desired immune response in humans. 

    Disruptive Impact

    The first mRNA vaccines used for mass immunizations were the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Both vaccines have been successful in potentially curbing the severe effects of COVID-19. 

    The fast-paced progress of the coronavirus vaccine development has also been eye-opening for the scientific community. Experts believe that scientists will develop other vaccines much faster now. Human trials are already underway for diseases like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), rabies, and influenza. In addition, scientists believe that mRNA technology might cure diseases that traditional vaccines can’t and are testing their theory on multiple incurable diseases. 

    Applications of mRNA vaccines: 

    mRNA vaccines can be used to: 

    • Create medicines that can cure genetic diseases with missing proteins, such as cystic fibrosis, by inserting mRNA molecules capable of creating them.
    • Change how healthcare treats cancer, by allowing doctors to inject mRNA vaccines that can recognize and kill cancer cells with mutated proteins to successfully curb the tumor.
    • Create vaccines that are more effective against infectious diseases in cattle and other livestock, reducing the rate of transmission and death by common diseases in farms.

    Questions to comment on

    • Do you think mRNA technology can one day cure different forms of cancer? 
    • Are there any other infectious diseases that you believe mRNA vaccines can prevent better than traditional vaccines? 

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