With the global outbreak of COVID-19, the introduction and widespread use of mRNA vaccines against the virus prompted 2020 to become a breakthrough year for mRNA technology platform. By the end of 2019, the total market value of five listed companies focusing on mRNA platforms was about $15 billion. As of August 2021, the asset has exceeded US $300 billion (Nature Reviews Drug Discovery). An increasing amount companies and researchers are beginning to focus on mRNA vaccine research.

mRNA Vaccines and Therapeutics Market

The global market for mRNA vaccines and therapeutics is expected to grow from $9.41 billion in 2021 to $15.49 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% for the period of 2021-2026 (IMARC).

Fig 1. mRNA vaccines and therapeutics market

mRNA Vaccine Advantages

mRNA vaccines have many unique advantages, which is the core reason to promote its wide research and application. Easy preparation is one of the top reasons for the emergence of mRNA vaccines. Its active component, RNA, is simple in form and is usually obtained through in vitro transcription with linear DNA as template. During this process, the stability and translation efficiency of mRNA can be improved through codon optimization, nucleoside modification, and an auxiliary delivery system, so as to form a nucleic acid vaccine with high specificity and strong stability. In addition, the safety of the vaccine is also a main factor to promote its wide application. The mRNA does not integrate into the host genome, so there is no potential risk of infection or insertion mutation, and it can be degraded through normal cellular processes.

mRNA Vaccine Production

Many vaccines inject weakened or inactivated pathogenic microorganisms into humans to trigger an immune response. However, mRNA vaccines do not. Instead, mRNA vaccines use synthetic mRNA made in a laboratory to guide our cells in how to produce a protein (or just a protein fragment) that triggers an immune response. If the real virus enters our body, this immune response that produces antibodies is the mechanism to protect us from infection.

The production mRNA vaccines can be divided into three stages.
Step 1: DNA template production. E. coli is commonly used for large-scale expression in vivo, and finally the plasmid carrying the target sequence is extracted and purified.
Step 2: Preparation and transcription of mRNA stock solution, from DNA to mRNA.
Step 3: In the preparation stage, lipid particles are used for encapsulation. The last is the filling and quality control of finished products, and lastly labeling to form the final product.

Fig 2. How mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Work (CDC Information)
RNA Synthesis | Synbio Technologies

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