RNA-Vaccines

Last updated on: 12.01.2021

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Definition
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RNA vaccines are vaccines which, in contrast to classical live vaccines, do not contain attenuated pathogens, but only the pathogen gene in question in the form of single-stranded messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). RNA vaccines are relatively easy to synthesize, as this can be done "in the lab" without the need for vital bacteria or cells.

Pharmacodynamics (Effect)
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RNA vaccines such as BNT162 (BioNTech/Fosun/Pfizer) and mRNA-1273 (Moderna/NIAID) usually consist of single-stranded messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). In the cytosol of the cell, the mRNA is bound by ribosomes. The mRNA contains the genetic information for the assembly of a protein. In the case of COVID-19, the vaccine BNT162 generates the spike protein of the virus.

To facilitate uptake into the cytosol, the vaccine RNA can be packaged, for example, in liposomes or lipid nanoparticles (LNP).

Furthermore, self-replicating or self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) are also used as in BNT162. These code for the corresponding viral antigen (spike protein) as well as for proteins that enable the replication of RNA vaccines so that the vaccine dose can be reduced. Sa-RNA vaccines are derived from alphaviruses (positive-strand RNA viruses without segmentation).

Note(s)
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RNA-based vaccines are generally considered to be very safe. Since the mRNA manufacturing process does not require toxic chemicals or cell cultures that could be contaminated with viruses. Also, the short manufacturing time for mRNA offers few opportunities to introduce contaminating microorganisms.

Last updated on: 12.01.2021