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Anticancer mRNA Vaccine

Context:

Recently, the results of a trial of messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA-4157/V940) vaccine made by Moderna and MSD (Merck & Co.) when taken along with an immunotherapy drug Keytruda has shown promising results against advanced melanoma, a kind of skin cancer.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About mRNA
  2. About mRNA Vaccine Therapy for Advanced Melanoma
  3. What is the Mechanism?

About mRNA:

  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to one of the DNA strands of a gene.
  • The mRNA is an RNA version of the gene that leaves the cell nucleus and moves to the cytoplasm where proteins are made.
  • During protein synthesis, an organelle called a ribosome moves along the mRNA, reads its base sequence, and uses the genetic code to translate each three-base triplet, or codon, into its corresponding amino acid.

About mRNA Vaccine Therapy for Advanced Melanoma

  • It is a personalised cancer vaccine, meaning it is manufactured specifically for each patient.
  • Researchers collected tissue samples from patients’ tumours and healthy tissue to create the vaccine.
  • In order to create the vaccine, the samples were examined to decode their genetic sequence and isolate mutant proteins linked exclusively to the cancer.
  • The Covid-19 vaccine was created using the same m-RNA technology as the customised cancer vaccine.
  • mRNA vaccines instruct our cells to produce a protein that sets off an immune response in our bodies via mRNA.

What is the Mechanism?

  • It allows the body’s immune system to seek and destroy cancerous cells.
  • The personalised cancer vaccine works in concert with Keytruda, to disable a protein called Programmed Death 1 (PD-1), that helps tumors to evade the immune system.
  • When injected into a patient, the patient’s cells act as a manufacturing plant, producing perfect copies of the mutations for the immune system to recognise and destroy.
  • Having been exposed to the mutations without the virus, the body learns to fight off the infection.
Efficacy:
  • The vaccine showed a 44% reduction in the risk of dying of cancer or having the cancer progress.
  • The combination of mRNA-4157/V940 and Keytruda was generally safe and demonstrated the benefit compared with Keytruda alone after a year of treatment.

-Source: The Hindu


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