When Pfizer announced that its new vaccine had almost completed Phase III clinical trials you could see the pride and excitement on the spokesman’s face. This pride was only partly about COVID. What the spokesman knew is that this was a brand new type of vaccine based on mRNA. Messenger RNA is a molecule that usually carries the message about the type of protein to be synthesised from the chromosomes in the cell nucleus to the protein factories (ribosomes) in the cell body. When used as a vaccine mRNA can introduce a genetic code into the cell to synthesize almost any protein from a foreign virus (antigens) and so create an immune response to the antigen and virus. The mRNA can be designed from scratch and synthesised in the laboratory.
Vaccines based on mRNA can be created to generate an immune response to most foreign proteins, including those on the surface of cancer cells. The success of the Pfizer/BioNTec vaccine gives us hope of low cost, bespoke vaccines against cancer, HIV Aids, Zika etc. The sudden flow of cash and resources into mRNA vaccines as a result of the pandemic may revolutionise medicine.
Perhaps the COVID pandemic is a cloud that does have a silver lining.
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: https://pol-check.blogspot.com/2020/11/new-covid19-vaccine-may-herald-new-era.html