mRNA vaccines: What they are and how they work

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Vaccines using mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid, are on the rise in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The technology has yielded encouraging results, but a successful mRNA vaccine has never been created before, which presents new risks. Below are facts about mRNA vaccines, of which several are currently being developed to fight coronavirus.
mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid, which is a molecule in cells that carries codes from DNA to make proteins
An mRNA vaccine encodes proteins of a virus, which is inserted into a cell to trigger an immune response and create antibodies
There has never been a successful mRNA vaccine before, but studies show they can elicit immunity against flu, Zika, rabies and coronavirus
mRNA vaccines are non-infectious and could be produced quickly at large scale
mRNA vaccines are considered risky because the technology is still new
Many other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine, are egg-based, cell-based, or synthetic

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