mRNA could revolutionize medicine
Scientists have been studying mRNA for decades. And mRNA vaccines are just the start.
It's all about proteins
An mRNA can teach the body how to make a specific protein that can help your immune system prevent or treat certain diseases.
You are made of proteins
Your body contains trillions of cells, the basic units of life. And every cell contains proteins.
What proteins do
Proteins are the "workhorses" of your cells. And your body makes >100,000 different kinds of proteins.
How proteins work
For example, insulin is a protein that helps the body control sugar levels in the blood. In people with Type I diabetes, their body doesn't make enough insulin.
Why proteins are important
When the body doesn’t make the right amount or type of protein, it can cause conditions like cancer or metabolic diseases.
Why we focus on proteins
Proteins are essential for maintaining health and preventing disease.
Your cells are protein factories
Proteins are made in a process called protein synthesis. And that's where mRNA comes in.
What is mRNA?
Messenger RNA–or mRNA–exists in all of the cells in your body. It is an essential component of all living organisms and has been in cells for billions of years.
What does it do?
Just like its name suggests, mRNA is a messenger. It interacts with other components in cells that help create proteins.
How does it help make a protein?
Each mRNA carries instructions to make a specific protein. These instructions are like a “blueprint.” mRNA delivers these instructions, and cells put the protein together.
What happens after a protein is made?
Once its job is done, an mRNA is broken down by the body. It doesn’t stick around for very long.
mRNA teaches the body how to make its own medicine
Scientists design each mRNA to give cells directions to make a particular protein.
1. Making an mRNA medicine
To protect the mRNA and help deliver it into cells, the mRNA is wrapped with lipids, or fats.
2. Deliver mRNA into the body
mRNA vaccines are given as an injection. Future mRNA treatments might be delivered by an infusion.
3. Creating the right protein
Once the vaccine is delivered, the body takes over and makes the protein according to the mRNA’s instructions.
4. Breaking it down
mRNA doesn’t stay in the body very long once its job is done. And it does not cause permanent changes or alter DNA.