Science & Tech

How can mRNA vaccines help fight cancer?

The results of an experimental cancer vaccination trial conducted by Moderna and MSD (Merck&Co.), based on the mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) platform, have been encouraging.

What is mRNA?

  • A single-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecule known as messenger RNA (mRNA) is complementary to one of a gene’s DNA strands.
  • The cytoplasm is where proteins are created, and the mRNA is an RNA form of the gene that exits the cell nucleus.
  • An organelle called a ribosome moves along the mRNA during protein synthesis, scans its base sequence, and then uses the genetic code to translate each codon—a sequence of three bases—into its matching amino acid.

What are mRNA vaccines?

  • A little portion of a protein typically located on the viral outer membrane is introduced as part of an mRNA vaccine’s delivery mechanism.
  • People who receive an mRNA vaccine are not exposed to the virus and cannot contract the virus through the vaccine.
  • The immune system identifies that the protein is foreign as part of a typical immunological response and creates specialised proteins known as antibodies.
  • By identifying specific viruses or other pathogens, adhering to them, and designating the pathogens for eradication, antibodies aid in the body’s defence against infection.
  • In order for the immune system to promptly react if exposed again, antibodies that have already been created stay in the body even after the body has cleansed itself of the infection.

How does the vaccine work?

  • The COVID vaccine was created using the same messenger-RNA technology as the individualised cancer vaccine.
  • It enables the body’s immune system to find and eliminate malignant cells, in this case melanoma, with the hope that it might also result in novel strategies for combating other malignancies.

Why is it a significant feat?

  • The chance of developing cancer or dying from it was reduced by 44% as a result of the cancer vaccination.
  • It is unique to each patient because it is a tailored cancer vaccine.
  • It is therefore anticipated that manufacturing it will be exceedingly expensive.
  • However, this has been hailed by oncologists all around the world as a promising new development in the treatment of cancer.
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