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Thanks to mRNA technology, Moderna developed a Covid-19 vaccine in just two days

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With laboratories working hard to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, it turned out that American pharmaceutical company Moderna only took two days to come up with its proposal. The rate of reaction is a result of using the new mRNA technology, but how does it work?

Thanks to mRNA technology, Moderna developed a Covid-19 vaccine in just two days
Thanks to mRNA technology, Moderna developed a Covid-19 vaccine in just two days

According to a report in the New York Times, the greatest scientific advance of the decade was planned in just 48 hours. Mind you, it took them more than three decades of research to develop a coronavirus vaccine in record time.

Moderna’s vaccine is based on messenger RNA, a piece of ribonucleic acid that carries information about the amino acid sequence of a particular protein from the DNA, which holds all of that information, to the ribosome in the cell. The various proteins are synthesized. In simple terms, we can think of mRNA as a USB device that cells use to pass information from a computer (DNA) to another device such as a printer (ribosome).

As they pioneered the production of synthetic RNA, scientists wondered if they could modify a cell by infiltrating a ribonucleic acid chain. So they could trick the ribosomes and get them to make the proteins we want.

In 1990 it was possible for the first time in the laboratories of the University of Wisconsin to “fool” the ribosomes of mice. This opened the door to the production of “antibodies to vaccinate, enzymes to reverse rare diseases, or growth agents to repair damaged heart tissue,” the report explains.

Of course, it was more complicated to apply to a human body. For one thing, scientists cannot inject synthetic RNA into cells individually. On the other hand, adding large amounts of this RNA to the blood could trigger a very dangerous massive immune response.

In 2005, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman discovered a way to “mask” synthetic RNA against the immune system. Thus, the infiltrated chain could migrate through the body and enter cells without provoking immune responses. This technology is the basis for two of the most advanced vaccines: Moderna’s and Pfizer’s.

So Moderna’s vaccine was scheduled in just two days

Initially, Moderna researchers were just looking for a quick way to reprogram adult cells and convert them into stem cells. They soon realized that they had something bigger: the ability to program the cells’ molecular system.

The scientists created a kind of “library” with a series of “coded functional implementations” that they could use to quickly and easily write and design small genomic programs (the synthetic mRNA).

To do this, they first had to find out how ribosomes read and synthesize proteins and learn the “machine language” of mRNA. Then we had to find a way to write the instructions we wanted and “compile” them into synthetic RNA. The biggest evidence they’ve been successful is their coronavirus vaccine.

The first SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing was published on January 10, 2020. There was the description of the spike protein, which due to its special properties would be the target of the vaccine. The goal is to get the cells to produce this protein so the immune system can identify it and generate immunity.

A group of Chinese scientists shared the coronavirus genome at this point on January 10. With this gesture began the race for the vaccine: It enabled EVERYONE who is now developing vaccines to develop them. https://t.co/rAgSCRN0Fx pic.twitter.com/OR42Slbfaw

– Federico Kukso (@fedkukso) 5th October 2020

It took Moderna just two days to design the RNA command that cells would use to produce the coronavirus spike protein. However, the hard part remained and they are still working on it: checking that this “masked” synthetic mRNA can be delivered safely and efficiently.

Therefore, if Moderna Laboratories or Pfizer are successful, their accomplishments will be greater than preventing COVID-19, which is enough. They would test the performance of a technology that can transform medicine and the pharmaceutical industry as we know it.

Moderna’s vaccine was 94.5% effective while Pfizer’s was 95% effective based on Phase 3 results.

See also: Pfizer has already asked the Ministry of Health for approval to distribute its vaccine in Mexico, confirmed Marcelo Ebrad

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