Pioneering RNA vaccines could tackle all future virus mutations, eliminate need for booster doses

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Pioneering RNA vaccines could tackle all future virus mutations, eliminate need for booster doses
Viruses are formidable adversaries, possessing an uncanny ability to mutate into stronger forms each time one strain was defeated, necessitating new interventions like booster shots. This ongoing struggle against viruses has led to the elusive quest for a universal vaccine since the advent of antiviral research.
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However, there's hope on the horizon as scientists pioneer a novel vaccine platform with RNA at its core. RNA, acting as the messenger between DNA and protein synthesis, plays a pivotal role. When the body is infected, it produces RNA molecules, known as RNAis, to combat the virus. Viruses counteract by producing proteins that thwart this immune response.

The innovative technique aims to manipulate the virus's protein production within the vaccine. Unlike conventional vaccines that rely on the body's immune response, this approach activates RNAi, providing a fresh strategy for viral defence. By weakening the virus initially, its ability to obstruct RNAi is impaired, rendering it vulnerable to the host's immune response. This weakened virus can then be used to bolster the RNAi immune system through vaccination.

Moreover, this method addresses the challenge of viral mutation by targeting thousands of sections of the viral genome, ensuring efficacy against future variants. It also offers potential benefits for vulnerable groups such as infants and those with compromised immune systems, circumventing the limitations of traditional vaccines.

Early trials on mice, including those lacking B and T cells, have shown promising results, demonstrating the vaccine's effectiveness and potential durability. Future plans include adapting this technology to combat influenza, potentially through a nasal spray vaccine, providing an alternative to injections.

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While obstacles such as extensive human trials and regulatory approvals remain, the prospect of universal protection against a range of viruses is within reach. This breakthrough could revolutionise our approach to combating infectious diseases, offering hope for a future with fewer health threats.

The findings of this research have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and can be accessed here.
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