mRNA Vaccine Article
Last year the world was faced with an outbreak of a new
infectious disease known as COVID-19, an illness
caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
It quickly spread around the world and caused widespread
panic, death, and large-scale economic damage as countries
were forced to shut down businesses and trade in order to
stop the disease’s proliferation.
Working tirelessly, researchers labored to find some way
to at least slow down the virus and finally we are seeing
the fruits of such labor in the form of multiple vaccines.
However, these new vaccines take on a different form from
what has been used up until now.
In the past, vaccines have primarily been comprised of
a small part of disease or even a whole disease in order to
train the body how to fight it. The two most widely used
types of vaccines are live-attenuated vaccines and
inactivated vaccines; the former uses a weakened version of
the disease and creates the strongest as well as
longest-lasting immune response while the latter uses
a killed or otherwise inactive version of the disease,
producing slightly weaker but still potent results.
Of the remaining types of vaccines, both subunit vaccines
and toxoid vaccines rely on training the body
to fight against specific proteins or other molecules
created by the disease-causing agent.
These have all been utilized for decades and have proven
to be extremely effective, but with the recent coronavirus
outbreak there has been a new type of vaccine introduced
into the group, the mRNA vaccine.
To understand how the mRNA vaccine works,
one must first understand what mRNA does for the body.
Whenever a cell wants to accomplish a task it must first
create a protein to do that. In order to achieve this,
the cell takes the appropriate section of DNA
(deoxyribonucleic acid) and transcribes it into a much
smaller and less stable form known as mRNA
(messenger ribonucleic acid) that is capable of exiting
through small openings in the nucleus.
Once outside of the nucleus, the mRNA can be read by
special proteins called ribosomes that then translate
the “code” into a new protein. In this manner,
rather than introducing parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
into the human body, the new mRNA vaccine introduces
the mRNA to make the viral proteins so that the body
can produce it on its own accord and subsequently
learn to fight it.