Messenger RNA (mRNA) is an RNA type that’s required for protein production. While mRNA was discovered in the early 1960s, it drew attention during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its use in vaccine development. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccines use mRNA, and those creations launched a broader conversation about mRNA.
However, while the rapid development of effective COVID-19 vaccinations was undeniably a major achievement, mRNA has far more potential than the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s a look at the magic of mRNA.
mRNA and Ongoing Vaccine Development
Since the first vaccine was created in 1796, the bulk of vaccine development involved giving people a form of the virus targeted for eradication. However, mRNA vaccines don’t rely on that approach. Instead, it uses mRNA to improve immunity by introducing cells that trigger the desired immune response.
While many people assumed the concept was brand new when the COVID-19 vaccines were created, that isn’t the case. The potential of mRNA for vaccine development has been explored since the 1990s. mRNA was examined as a means of instructing cells to build specific proteins that are associated with the targeted virus, leading to an immune response without the need to infect a person with the virus itself.
Initially, securing funding to explore the strategy proved challenging, though progress did occur in fits and spurts. In 2017, human trials of potential mRNA vaccines were underway after specific challenges were solved. But COVID-19 changed the landscape, as a functional vaccine was needed quickly. That ultimately opened the door, making further exploration of mRNA’s vaccine potential plausible.
The benefits of the mRNA approach are multi-fold. Overall, the development of vaccines can likely move forward faster using mRNA technology, making it possible to address new viruses in less time. Additionally, it’s a lower-cost strategy, which can benefit both vaccine-developing companies and the patients that will receive the vaccine, making development and treatment less expensive.
Researchers are already exploring whether mRNA vaccines could be created for a variety of diseases. Some earlier work has focused on influenza, HIV, Zika, and rabies, and conditions like hepatitis B, malaria, and tuberculosis are also being explored.
mRNA and Cancer Treatment
Along with viral infections, mRNA is being examined as a potential resource in the development of new cancer treatments. While the exact strategies may vary, some involve using the mRNA to provide instructions to the cells of patients, leading them to create protein fragments based on the genetic mutations present in tumors. By doing so, the goal is to generate an immune response that would allow the body to target tumor cells directly.
Functionally, the approach is the same as with other vaccines. By teaching the body to attack cancer cells, it can slow, limit, or even prevent tumor growth. However, research on this strategy for cancer treatment is still generally in the early phases. While clinical trials are being conducted, there is no FDA-approved mRNA cancer vaccine.
Still, the heightened interest in mRNA vaccines is allowing progress to accelerate. Plus, the results of clinical trials that are already in the works could reveal whether this approach is safe and effective. If so, the likelihood that development would accelerate is high. Funding availability and interest would both increase, making it easier for the scientific community to continue pursuing this intriguing treatment option for an often devastating diagnosis.
How Translators and Interpreters Are Critical to the Medical Industry
Ultimately, mRNA could be transformative in the medical industry, with the potential to lead to a wide array of developments that may benefit people all around the globe. However, there’s more to serving patients than using the right technologies and treatments. Communication is a critical part of the patient experience. By having reliable medical translators and interpreters by an organization’s side, effective communication is far easier to achieve.
If your healthcare organization needs access to skilled medical interpreters, Acutrans offers accurate certified document translations in 24 hours and provides specialized translation services created explicitly for the medical sector. Additionally, if you’re in need of experienced medical interpreters, Acutrans also address that need. Our capable team offers video remote, over-the-phone, and on-site interpretation services that cover more than 200 languages, and we have industry-specific interpretation services designed specifically for the healthcare sector. Contact us for a free quote today.