What is Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine?

Pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer recently announced the results of their vaccine candidates, which are based on the mRNA technology.

Messenger RNA (mRNA)

  • A Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded molecule of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). It is created during the process of transcription, in molecular biology.
  • Actually, cells in the body use genes for protein synthesis. This process includes two-step.
  • The first step is transcription. In transcription the sequence of one gene is replicated in an RNA molecule. That means, RNA polymerase creates a copy of a gene from the DNA to mRNA when required.
  • The second step is translation. In translation the RNA molecule serves as a code for the development of an amino-acid chain. This chain is called a polypeptide.
  • That means during protein synthesis, an organelle called a ribosome moves along the mRNA. It reads its base sequence, and uses the genetic code to translate each three-base triplet, or codon, into its related amino acid.

mRNA Vaccine

  • A coronavirus vaccine based on mRNA, when injected into the body, will instruct the cells to create copies of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
  • This process, in turn, will prompt the immune cells to create antibodies to fight the new copies of viruses.
  • These antibodies will remain in the blood and fight the real virus if and when an infection occurs.

What is Ribonucleic Acid (RNA)?

RNA is a key biological macromolecule. It is present in all biological cells. It is primarily involved in the synthesis of proteins, carrying the messenger instructions from DNA. DNA itself contains the genetic instructions required for the development and maintenance of life. In some viruses, RNA (in place of DNA) carries genetic information. The type of RNA decides the function that this molecule will have within the cell. Apart from the coding region of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules that will be translated into proteins, other cellular RNA elements perform different processes.

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