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The Role of mRNA In COVID-19 Vaccines

The Role of mRNA In COVID-19 Vaccines

What Is mRNA and How Does It Work?

Messenger RNA or mRNA is a single-stranded molecule of RNA, which is complementary to a person’s genetic sequence since it corresponds with one of the DNA strands in our genes. mRNA is synthesized using DNA, in the nucleus. This process is called transcription. mRNA then leaves the cell nucleus and is transferred to the cytoplasm where it attaches itself to the ribosomes, which is a cell organelle used to perform protein synthesis in a body. It assembles the proteins using the code carried by mRNA to the cytoplasm. This process of making protein using mRNA is called translation.

Once the protein is made, the cells in our body break down the instruction code carried by mRNA and get rid of it. The cells then present the protein created, on the surface, which is then recognized by our immune system as out of place or alien, to which its response is to create an immune response against it which results in the making of antibodies.

Changing The Face of Vaccinology

Traditionally, the purpose of a vaccine was to familiarize the body with what the virus looks like. Once familiarized, the immune system comes into action by creating antibodies to fight the infection. This process of familiarization requires a piece of the weakened virus injected into the body.

The introduction of mRNA has changed the face of vaccinology. It is easy and quick to make, unlike the conventional vaccines made previously, which took months to make and the process of making them was far more complex than mRNA. It’s an easy and quick process because it does not require large quantities of the virus to make the vaccine. A small quantity is used for testing the vaccine.

mRNA basically carries the code to make the protein that results in the immune response of constructing antibodies against a virus, in today’s case the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Unlike the traditional vaccines which inject a piece of the weakened virus into the body. And to top it all, the mRNA vaccine researchers claim that it can be modified and target all viruses just by getting injected by it once, instead of creating new vaccines for every new or old virus.

Before COVID-19

The messenger (RNA) has been studied by a lot of researchers in the past 30–40 years. It was founded by Elliot Volkin and Lazarus Astrachan, in 1956 and since then has been a part of vaccinology. It has been a key part of the studies done for the vaccines against Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Besides vaccines, it has been studied for cancer. It is said that certain proteins created by cancer cells can be targeted by mRNA technology.

The mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19

There are 2 mRNA vaccines in the market right now. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna Covid-19 vaccine both are approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration(FDA) for emergency use. They are both administered in two doses.

Facts About Messenger (RNA)

  •  It cannot give someone COVID since the vaccine doesn’t contain the live virus.
  • The research on mRNA mostly consists of how it can help fight the cancer cells generated in a body
  • The currently available vaccines prove to have an efficacy of 94% (Moderna) and 95% (Pfizer)
  • Extensive research is done for both, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19, proving they are both safe to use. 
  • Once fully approved, mRNA vaccines can be produced on a large scale. 

After a year-long prevalence of the coronavirus, the vaccines are finally available. Besides this,  we also offer different COVID-19 tests like the Rapid TestPCR Test, and Antibody Test which will further ensure your safety. Book your appointment and visit Manhattan Medical Arts.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 03/01/2021

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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