mRNA vaccines are for the very first time used in the standard vaccination process. This vaccine type is being developed for almost 20 years. In the past, the development of mRNA vaccines reached clinical assessment phase. However, vaccines were considered to be unstable and immune reaction insufficient. These issues have been successfully solved but there was no opportunity to test these improved vaccines and carry out a clinical assessment as there was no epidemic around the World.
DNA – an important part of our genome – is not included in mRNA vaccines. This vaccine type does not contain living virus parts and therefore cannot cause the disease. The vaccine consists of an RNA section with a message inserted for a purpose of creation one of SARS-CoV-2 virus protein which is crucial for immune system reaction.
mRNA does not interact with a nucleus (cell core) where our genome is located. The protein is produced from mRNA pattern in a cytoplasm, which is separated from the nucleus, and therefore also from our genome, by the membrane. Thus, the vaccine cannot react or change our genome. Many common viruses – infected repeatedly in life – are RNA viruses and also do not dispose of the ability to change our genome (e.g., rhinoviruses – causing runny nose, influenza).
mRNA vaccines are relatively easy to modify for a purpose of usage against other viruses. Moreover, the production process is faster in a comparison with ordinary vaccine types. That said, mRNA vaccines are undoubtedly opening the new era of infectious disease prevention.
Author of the text: RNDr. Ruth Tachezy, Ph.D.
Short informative video (only in Czech) is available on Youtube.