The next act for messenger RNA (mRNA) could be bigger than covid vaccines
New mRNA vaccines to fight the coronavirus are based on a technology that could transform medicine. Beyond potentially ending the pandemic, the vaccine breakthrough is showing how messenger RNA may offer a new approach to building drugs.
In the near future, researchers believe, shots that deliver temporary instructions into cells could lead to vaccines against herpes and malaria, better flu vaccines, and, if the covid-19 germ keeps mutating, updated coronavirus vaccinations, too.
Researchers see a future well beyond vaccines. They think the technology will permit cheap gene fixes for cancer, sickle-cell disease, and maybe even HIV.
After the covid vaccines, some researchers expect biotechnology companies to return to their original plans for the technology, like treating more conventional ailments such as heart attacks, cancer, or rare inherited diseases. But there’s no guarantee of success in that area.
Although there are a lot of potential therapeutic applications for synthetic mRNA in principle, in practice the problem of delivering sufficient amounts of mRNA to the right place in the body is going to be a huge and possibly insurmountable challenge in most cases, according to researchers.
Picture credit : SELMAN DESIGN