mRNA vaccine technology is in news across the world. What is mRNA vaccine and how it is different from traditional vaccine technology.

Model Answer

Vaccines help prepare the body to fight foreign invaders (pathogens such as bacteria or viruses), to prevent infection.

mRNA or messenger RNA is a new type of vaccine that uses a molecule called messenger RNA. Messenger RNA is a type of RNA that is necessary for protein production.mRNA vaccines work by introducing a piece of mRNA that corresponds to a viral protein, usually a small piece of a protein found on the virus’s outer membrane. Using this mRNA blueprint, cells produce the viral protein. As part of a normal immune response, the immune system recognizes that the protein is foreign and produces specialized proteins called antibodies. Once produced, antibodies remain in the body, even after the body has rid itself of the pathogen, so that the immune system can quickly respond if exposed again.

How it is different from traditional vaccine:

  1. In traditional vaccine, microbial protein or inactive microbe is placed in a modified version of a different virus (viral vector).Whereas in a mRNA vaccine a molecule called messenger RNA is used rather than part of an actual bacteria or virus.
  2. Production: Traditional vaccine production is slower and it is more difficult to produce right type of protein. Whereas mRNA vaccine production is faster because it is easier to produce mRNA molecule.

Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. Recently Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna are using this technology to develop Covid-19 vaccine. Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. Thus, this technology has the capacity to bring in revolution in fighting health crisis in future.

Subjects : Current Affairs