MIT Engineers Design Programmable RNA Vaccines; Results Displays A Positive Impact Against Ebola, H1N1 Influenza, Malaria Outbreak


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers have developed a new type of programmable. This type of vaccine can be manufacture easily in one week which is good shot in dealing with rapid disease outbreaks like the Ebola, influenza, Toxoplasma gondii (a relative of the Malaria-causing parasite) other future epidemic.

The MIT-headed experiment went all well in the mice samples and were 100 percent effective against Ebola, H1N1 influenza, and a common parasite. This vaccine consists of strands of RNA, a genetic material known as messenger. It has been designed to code for any bacterial, viral or parasitic protein, MITNews wrote. These molecules are enveloped into a molecule that transports the RNA into cells. Then it is translated into proteins that incite an immune response from the host.

Aside from developing a vaccine against infectious diseases, the MIT research team takes advantage of this approach to produce cancer vaccines that would orient the immune system to identify and destroy tumors.

MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) Member Daniel Anderson said that this nanoformulation method allows them to make vaccines against new diseases in just a span of seven days. This gives potential in handling sudden outbreaks or making rapid modifications and improvements.

Anderson is also the senior author of a paper describing the new programmable vaccines in the July 4 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The project was headed by Jasdave Chahal, a post-doctorate at MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Omar Khan, a post-doctorate at the Koch Institute, MITNews added.

Programmable RNA Vaccines

In most traditional vaccines, the preparations consist of inactivated form of a virus or other pathogen. Alas, these vaccines typically take a long manufacturing time which are too risky for some diseases. While some other vaccines consist of proteins produced normally by the microbe. However, these vaccines do not always induce a strong immune response which requires researchers to seek a chemical that enhances the response.

RNA vaccines seem more plausible since they induce host cells to produce voluminous copies of the proteins they encode that provokes a tougher immune reaction than the usual proteins given on their own. The use of messenger RNA molecules as vaccines existed for about 30 years, but one of the major obstacles was finding a safe and effective way to convey them.

Read the full version of the report at MIT News. What can you say about this development? Tell us your opinion at the comment section below.

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