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The Science of mRNA

The power of mRNA


At Moderna, we are delivering on the promise of mRNA science to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients.¹

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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.

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What proteins do

Proteins are the "workhorses" of your cells. And your body makes >100,000 different kinds of proteins.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What does it do?

Just like its name suggests, mRNA is a messenger. It interacts with other components in cells that help create proteins.

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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.

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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.

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1. Making an mRNA medicine

To protect the mRNA and help deliver it into cells, the mRNA is wrapped with lipids, or fats.

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2. Deliver mRNA into the body

mRNA vaccines are given as an injection. Future mRNA treatments might be delivered by an infusion.

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3. Creating the right protein

Once the vaccine is delivered, the body takes over and makes the protein according to the mRNA’s instructions.

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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.