mRNA Vaccines: Better Protection Against the Flu & RSV?

mRNA Vaccines: Better Protection Against the Flu & RSV?

October 24, 2022

Fall Isn’t the Only Thing in the Air 

The season of Autumn brings the changing of leaves, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spiced, well, everything. However, alongside it comes humidity, rainy weather, and temperature drops, all setting a picture-perfect stage for viruses and infections to shine. As flu cases continue to rise in the United States, so does fear for our more susceptible populations, and fearing the flu isn’t all this Fall brings.Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a prevalent respiratory illness with cold-like symptoms, also takes to the floor during this time of year. The flu and RSV aren’t picky, targeting all ages with equal vigor. However, for those with weakened immune systems, such as those 65 and older, profound health implications like bronchiolitis, heart attack, pneumonia, and stroke can occur. According to the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention, vaccination is the most effective way to remain protected against the flu and RSV.

Education on Vaccination 

To understand how vaccines work, we must first understand how the body fights illness. As germs find their way into the body, they attack and multiply, resulting in an infection that leads to disease. Now, our body does not like strangers and is well-trained in the act of self-defense. Upon meeting these germs, our immune system develops the necessary tools to combat the bacteria or virus. Current vaccines can imitate an infection to teach your immune system how to prevent future infections. So, through a weakened strain of a virus, vaccinations have been able to trigger a response from the body that is safe and has shown results if the body reencounters the same virus. However, as medical advances excel, we can’t help but wonder about the potential the future holds for vaccination.

mRNA Vaccines – There’s Hope Behind the Hype 

For decades, scientists have been exploring the possibility of mRNA vaccines. When discussing mRNA, protein is the star of the show. Our body consists of trillions of cells, and every single cell carries a protein. Protein acts as the building blocks for your cells, making up over100,000 varied types. Where mRNA vaccines differ from current vaccination is that instead of injecting a weakened virus into the body, it enables your own body’s cells to create a piece of the virus. By introducing a piece of mRNA that correlates to a viral protein, our cells assemble the viral protein that triggers our natural immune response as it recognizes that the protein is foreign. Due to high levels of virus-blocking antibodies known as neutralizing antibodies, many scientists believe that mRNA vaccines can outperform current vaccines regarding prevention.

Standouts that make mRNA unique are: 

  1. mRNA vaccines can be rapidly created – With mRNA vaccines, only a specific portion of the virus needs to be targeted, meaning that it can be modified more quickly than traditional vaccines.
  2. Safe for the immunocompromised – Standard vaccines comprise weakened but live viruses. For those with fragile immune systems, it is dangerous as they could catch the very same virus; they’re seeking protection.
  3. Utilized for more than just vaccines – While new to the world of vaccination, for approximately ten years now, mRNA has been used for immunotherapy cancer treatments by targeting a part of the tumor and creating the necessary antibodies to attack the cancerous cells.

COVID-19 and the pandemic allowed this technology to come of age; mRNA vaccines have the potential to be safer, faster, and more effective at completing the expected task long-term.

Don’t let the flu make you blue – learn more about our currently enrolling mRNA flu vaccine study here! For those worried about RSV, breathe easy because Rainier Clinical Research has a study for you – learn more here!

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