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HIV, Cancer, and More Can be Treated with mRNA Vaccines

Dr. Anthony Fauci was speechless when the final Phase 3 data showed that the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were more than 90% effective last November. He sent a journalist smiling face emojis to get his reaction. Real-world research in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere have confirmed this incredible efficacy. Even those who had previously pushed for mRNA technology have been pleased and surprised by it. It was designed for its speed and flexibility rather than hoping to give excellent protection against infectious disease.

Although the messenger RNA, or mRNA, platform is new to the general public, academics have been betting on it for decades. Those bets are already paying off, and not only by halting an epidemic that claimed millions of lives in a single year. This strategy, which has resulted in highly safe and effective vaccinations against a new virus, also shows promise against old foes like HIV and illnesses that affect newborns and young children like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) metapneumovirus.

It’s being studied as a cancer treatment, particularly for melanoma and brain tumors. It may provide a novel treatment option for autoimmune illnesses. The history of mRNA vaccines begins in the early 1990s, when Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian-born researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, began experimenting with mRNA technology as a sort of gene therapy. Whether scientists seek to employ the mRNA molecule to cure or prevent disease, the concept is the same: give instructions to the body’s cells to manufacture something particular.

Researchers often use the analogy of a cookbook. The DNA of the body is the recipe book. Messenger RNA is a duplicate of the recipe that vanishes soon. It can be used to direct cells to generate a healthy copy of a protein in the case of hereditary illness.

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