New research shows the promising use of mRNA vaccines, a tailored genetic code that has proven effective, most recently by the COVID vaccine which was developed and approved in under a year.
ABC 7 News sat down with a local doctor to chat about the future of genetically constructed vaccines.
When the hits start coming, they don’t stop, and mRNA vaccines are swinging big. About a month after the technology led to the Emergency Use Authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine in record time, the biotech company has done it again, reporting a breakthrough treating Multiple Sclerosis.
“This is, you know, one of these discoveries that looks like it's got a whole lot of potential," said Dr. Scott Milton with Texas Tech’s Health Sciences Center
According to BioTech, they have successfully encoded MS-specific auto-antigens, that when injected stopped Multiple Sclerosis symptoms in lab mice. It also is said to have prevented further deterioration in the mice with early signs of MS.
However, Dr. Milton says, this research is still early.
“Performing experiments in mice is helpful, but that but they are so different from humans, and being able to draw conclusions from that it's going to be helpful in humans is, you know, that's a real leap it has to be obviously advanced further,” said the Doctor.
Research into mRNA vaccines has ramped up over the last several years, and the pandemic acted as a perfect test run.
“We never had MRNA vaccines on the market before," Dr. Milton said.
So why is this latest MS breakthrough notable? Well, MS is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself.
The mRNA vaccines are coded for a certain immune response and then invoke that immune response “in the cytoplasm of the cell."
So a built vaccine could “target disease-causing antigens of individual patients” according to Biotech but MS could be the tip of the iceberg.
With mRNA vaccines able to target certain proteins of cells, other illnesses could be next.
“Oh yeah, I mean there's been so many advancements made in all different fields of medicine and it's because of people that are dedicated to science and doing the research and the hard work to bring it to market," said Dr. Milton.
MS research has been going since the 1940s but it wasn’t until June of 2019 that the findings of Biotech’s MS research were first submitted for publication.
Like all vaccines, 2 stages of testing have to be done before humans are involved.
Biotech is on the pre-clinical stage that takes 1-2 years but mRNA vaccines may be developed faster.