With mRNA, the future of medicine is here

January 14, 2021
With mRNA, the future of medicine is happening now. We have the details on Moderna’s mRNA vaccine announcement, as well as what we can do to reduce the risk of food insecurity in the face of climate change. (836 words, 4 minutes, 10 seconds)
BIO

With mRNA, the future of medicine is happening now. We have the details on Moderna’s mRNA vaccine announcement, as well as what we can do to reduce the risk of food insecurity in the face of climate change. (836 words, 4 minutes, 10 seconds)

 

With mRNA, the future of medicine is here

 
 

One good thing to come out of the pandemic is the acceleration of mRNA technology, which has the potential to bring vaccines and cures to patients that previously weren’t possible. This week, Moderna announced three new vaccine R&D programs targeting some of the world’s deadliest diseases—a sign that mRNA could be the next frontier for medicine.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are made with messenger RNA (or mRNA) technology, which teaches cells how to make protein that triggers an immune response and produce antibodies without using or injecting the live virus, explains the CDC

“Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades,” the CDC continues, and research was rapidly scaled up when the novel coronavirus emerged early last year. 

Both vaccines are 95% effective. This week, Moderna said immunity from their vaccine should last at least a year, while Pfizer-BioNTech believes their vaccine could be effective against new strains of the virus.

Now, Moderna is launching three new mRNA vaccine development programs: for seasonal flu, HIV, and Nipah, a zoonotic virus that causes severe respiratory and neurologic complications and has a fatality rate of 40-75%.

A potential HIV vaccine is particularly exciting. “While the research to develop an HIV vaccine has been ongoing since 1987, so far no candidate has been successful,” explains Quartz. “A successful vaccine would be a groundbreaking development in the quest to eliminate HIV, a virus that kills nearly 700,000 people a year worldwide, particularly in poorer countries where large population groups lack access to medications to stop the progression of the disease.”

Looking ahead, mRNA technology has the potential to revolutionize medical care—not only for infectious diseases, but cancer and addiction, too, Quartz continues. 

Listen: Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer of Moderna, joined the I AM BIO Podcast last year to talk about the technology and how they were able to move so quickly. Get the episode at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcasts, including AppleGoogle, and Spotify.


More Health Care News:

CNBC: J&J’s one-shot COVID vaccine generates promising immune response in early trial
“The phase one and two clinical trial data shows a single shot of the vaccine ‘gives sustainable antibodies,’ Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at J&J, told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell in an interview.”

 
 
 
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What is a vaccine? How are vaccines developed? How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective? We answer these questions and more at www.CovidVaccineFacts.org. Visit to spread facts and combat misinformation in this critical time.
 

On food insecurity, this is not a drill

 
 

The pandemic has dramatically increased poverty and food insecurity—but it’s “only a precursor of what climate change will mean for food insecurity,” explains the World Economic Forum. BIO’s Cornelia Poku examines the terrifying data and what we need to do to stave off hunger.

COVID-19 has forced 1 in 33 people on the planet to rely on “humanitarian aid,” a 40% increase from the previous year, write Cormac O’Brien and Thin Lei Win in an article for the World Economic Forum

But this might be nothing compared to the potential impact of climate change. “With a warming climate comes an increase in diseases, an increase in pests, and a decrease in animal and plant foods as they struggle to survive the unusual weather patterns and fires,” explains Cornelia in a new blog post.

Enter ag biotechnology, which can help reduce carbon emissions, conserve biodiversity, increase crop productivity, and provide more food and income to remote communities with GMO and gene edited crops.

Some GMO cropsare bred with features such as drought tolerance and pest and disease resistance,” continues Cornelia, while others are “gene edited against ravaging diseaseslike cassavas, which have been edited to survive cassava brown streak disease.”

Researchers are also working on solutions for threatened food animals, like AquaBounty’s GE salmon “that grows faster and more sustainably in inland-based tanks—not in potentially polluted waters,” as well as genetically modified cows that will cut down on methane emissions. 

“Frankly, there’s a lot of work to do,” she concludes. “We were not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, but with foresight, we can be prepared for the climate change pandemic and the inevitable hunger it will bring to many billions of people.” 

Read the whole thing. 

Want to know more about the relationship between the coronavirus and climate change? Read Coronavirus Shows Global Response to Climate Change is Possible.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

Bloomberg Green: Biodiversity, supply chain rank among biggest ESG themes in 2021
“Investors said they will put increased pressure this year on companies to address racial and gender diversity, as well as climate change.” 

 
 
 
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I am BIO: Fighting Climate Change with Enzymes
I am BIO: Meet Nathan
 
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As a senior scientist at Novozymes, Nathan Reese is working to ensure our planet will be clean and beautiful for generations to come.

Using enzymes, Novozymes helps customers reduce the carbon footprint of and chemicals used in detergents.

This is just one example of how “biotechnology is a key to sustainability for the future of our planet and humanity,” says Nathan.

Watch Nathan’s story. 

Visit www.bio.org/iambio to share your story, too.

 
 
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President Trump’s Thursday: “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings,” according to the official schedule.

President-elect Biden’s Thursday: Axios Vitals looks at how Biden could speed up COVID-19 vaccinations, while STAT News says “Biden’s Covid-19 team reconsiders pandemic plan in light of more infectious coronavirus variants.”

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House impeached President Trump yesterday, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats in voting for impeachment. CNN explains what’s next. One thing’s clear: a Senate trial will cast a “shadow” over the early days of the Biden administration and potentially delay nomination hearings, says Bloomberg.

 
 
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