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Messenger RNA: a basis for vaccine technology and cancer treatment

Recent media coverage has highlighted the relatively new technology involving mRNA that has found application in COVID vaccination, but also in the treatment of cancer. The mRNA technology works by sending instructions to cells to produce an antigen or protein, thus enabling the immune system to target cells for destruction. Here, Science Editor Brian Nation compiles a small selection of activity in this important research.

mRNA therapeutics in cancer immunotherapy

Beck JD, Reidenbach D, Salomon N et al. Mol Cancer. 2021 Apr 15; 20 (1): 69. doi: 10.1186/s12943-021-01348-0.

Synthetic mRNA provides a template for the synthesis of any given protein, protein fragment or peptide and lends itself to a broad range of pharmaceutical applications, including different modalities of cancer immunotherapy. With the ease of rapid, large-scale Good Manufacturing Practice-grade mRNA production, mRNA is ideally poised not only for off-the-shelf cancer vaccines but also for personalised neoantigen vaccination. The ability to stimulate pattern recognition receptors and thus an anti-viral type of innate immune response equips mRNA-based vaccines with inherent adjuvanticity. 

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