In the Pfizer symposium “Revising the Paradigm: The Importance of Adult Vaccination Against Respiratory Diseases” at ECCMID 2021, Özlem Türeci (Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of BioNTech SE) discussed mRNA as a therapeutic agent, highlighting the technology that enables mRNA engineering for different applications in her presentation “mRNA Vaccines: The Accelerated Development of a COVID-19 Vaccine Including Clinical Development and Early Data on Effectiveness”.
Accelerated mRNA vaccine development during the current COVID-19 pandemic has been possible for two reasons. Firstly, there already was prior expertise with mRNA technology and its clinical application. Leveraging two decades of development and application of mRNA-based cancer treatments enabled rapid progress in the field. Secondly, mRNA is a versatile molecule that can be easily designed with molecular engineering and manufactured very quickly.
Furthermore, Türeci outlined features that make mRNA suitable for a variety of therapeutic applications, ranging from cancer to infectious disease.
Key features of mRNA as a therapeutic agent:
- Natural molecule found universally within cells
- Does not integrate into the genome
- Expression is transient
- Adaptable activity and half-life
- Suitable to encode for antibodies, antigens, cytokines, and any other type of protein
- Fast design and manufacture
- Rapid and highly scalable production
- Well-characterized biopharmaceutical with high purity
mRNA Vaccines: The Accelerated Development of a COVID-19 Vaccine Including Clinical Development and Early Data on Effectiveness. Dr. Özlem Türeci (Mainz, Germany). Presented online at ECCMID 2021 on 9 July 2021.
Sahin, U., Karikó, K., & Türeci, Ö. (2014). mRNA-based therapeutics — developing a new class of drugs. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 13(10), 759-780. doi: 10.1038/nrd4278
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