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CCMB’s mRNA COVID vaccine more effective against variants

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Most vaccines, including Covishield and Covaxin, use inactivated viruses that train the human immune system to fight the COVID-19 virus.

But, a self-amplifying Messenger RNA (mRNA), the gold-standard vaccine developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, which tricks the body into making the viral protein itself, has a proven and better immune response.

Since India lacked mRNA vaccine technology, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has indigenously developed a better version of the mRNA vaccine.

“Unlike inactivated virus vaccines, which may not be effective against changing sequences (variants) of the virus, mRNA vaccines are versatile. mRNA vaccines are proven to deal with variants because they target specific proteins that evade the infection with the same live organism,” said Dr Madhusudhana Rao, CEO of Atal Incubation Centre-CCMB, while briefing the media about the new development.

Scientists observed robust immune responses while conducting trials on mice. “The mice, upon two doses of the mRNA, showed a robust immune response. The anti-spike antibodies generated were found to be 90 per cent efficient in preventing the human ACE2 receptor that binds itself to Covid-19 virus,” said Dr Rajesh Iyer, a scientist involved in the project.

This breakthrough study of indigenous mRNA vaccines can also help discover vaccines for Tuberculosis, dengue and malaria. “With this study, which is currently in animal-trail-phase, we have shown that we can develop end-to-end mRNA vaccines. Meaning, with significantly less effort, mRNA technology can help CCMB sire vaccines for other infectious diseases such as TB, dengue and malaria,” said Dr Vinay Nandicoori, Director of CCMB.

“The idea is not absolutely novel, but since Moderna has exempted India from its patent, it has been easier for CCMB to make the breakthrough. Many corporations are interested in developing vaccines for various diseases, and CCMB is ready to collaborate as knowledge partners,” the CCMB director added.

Vaccine for TB, Dengue 

“With this study, which is currently in animal-trail-phase, we have shown that we can develop end-to-end mRNA vaccines. Meaning, with significantly less effort, mRNA technology can help CCMB sire vaccines for other infectious diseases such as TB, dengue and malaria,” said Dr Vinay Nandicoori, Director of CCMB

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