mRNA vaccines could provide a breakthrough for coronavirus and other illness

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A new vaccine platform that harnesses the power of genetics has been thrust into the public eye as the success of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine continues to grow, which if proven safe and effective, would be the first of its kind.“There’s never been a successful vaccine developed this way before, so it would be very, very novel, which is exciting, but potentially risky,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, chief of the division of geographic medicine and infectious diseases at Tufts Medical Center.
Messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, is a chemical readout of DNA that can be transferred into cells to make proteins.
Dr. Mark Poznansky, director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, compared DNA to delivery of information to the immune system from a book about coronavirus, and RNA to a chapter or two about it.
“You are fundamentally engineering the cells in your body to make a foreign protein from the virus that your immune system can then react to,” said Poznansky.
The mRNA vaccine encodes proteins of a virus, which are inserted into a cell to trigger an immune response.
Cambridge-based company Moderna’s mRNA coronavirus vaccine is highly regarded by health experts …

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