Use of tech in mass producing Moderna and Pfizer

By : |November 18, 2020 0

When Moderna announced that its vaccine is 94.5% effective, the world found hope overnight. Now, two potential vaccines may find ways in our lives. In fact, the Indian government is in dialogue with both domestic and international vaccine manufacturers for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine.

“Not only with Moderna, but the government is also in communication with Pfizer, Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate in terms of safety, immunogenicity and efficacy,” news agency PTI reported quoting a senior government official. Europe also has a deal with Pfizer and Moderna for 200 million doses.

So, Moderna’s announcement that they will leverage their tech of mRNA to make the vaccine, the mass production seemed possible. Until now, India’s SERUM institute was the sole pharma manufacturer that could make the vaccine in large extent.

So, what is mRNA?

Using mRNA as a medicine is a fundamentally different approach than treating disease with other drug classes. It plays a fundamental role in human biology. mRNA is the set of instructions by which cells make all proteins and send them to various parts of the body.

mRNA medicines take advantage of normal biological processes to express proteins and create a desired therapeutic effect. This enables the potential treatment of a broad spectrum of diseases, many of which cannot be addressed with current technologies.

To put it simply, mRNA is like software for the cell. So, if it works for one disease, it has the potential to work for many diseases. Moderna uses the approach to leverage mRNA science by creating an operating system. The tech platform is the multidisciplinary mRNA OS.

How does mRNA use tech?

Like Pfizer, Moderna is also developing an RNA vaccine. These work by injecting a piece of genetic material into a person’s body that contains instructions for how to create the spike protein, the signature mechanism the coronavirus uses to invade its victim’s cells. Once the vaccine is injected, a person’s body will use those instructions to create its own version of the spike protein. When the immune system spots these proteins, it mounts defences against them that will also repel real viral intruders in the future.

The biotechs used a reverse process to find what proteins affected the body, causing Covid-19. Moderna says, “We start with our desired sequence for a protein and design and synthesize the corresponding mRNA sequence. This is the code that will create that protein. Before synthesis, we also engineer that mRNA sequence to optimize the mRNA’s physical properties, as well as those of the encoded protein. Later, we deliver the mRNA sequence to the cells responsible for making that protein via one of several modalities. Now, reaching different types of cells requires different delivery methods. So, once the mRNA – the instructions – are in the cell, human biology takes over. Ribosomes read the code and build the protein, and the cells express the protein in the body.”

Does the tech help with mass production?

A vaccine can’t come fast enough. Especially when the virus has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide. Still, if the Food and Drug Administration allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidates; they can produce limited and rationed supplies before the end of the year. Both require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. Moderna expects to have about 20 million doses, earmarked for the U.S., by the end of 2020. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have about 50 million doses globally by year’s end.

So, no the tech only helped create the vaccine. But the vaccine can be powerful in helping the human body to fight not just Coronavirus, but many other viruses (disputed).

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