Although the subject of research for more than 30 years, messenger RNA (mRNA) technology is still a long way from becoming a reality. However, with the spread of the epidemic and unprecedented investment in the history of vaccines, two unprecedented achievements were achieved in the region: the first immunization with innovative technology to be adopted and applied on a large scale, and the development of vaccine production in record time, in less than a year.
Now, in addition to being augmentative and safe, technology has proven to be highly effective, strategies using unprecedented prevention technology are already being tested against diseases such as HIV, Zika, Ebola, and herpes, as well as new, more effective vaccines against tuberculosis, malaria and dengue. flu.
There are even promising studies implementing mRNA for
and diagnoses such as diabetes and sickle cell anemia. Researchers paint an optimistic scenario for significant scientific progress in the next decade.
Brazil should gain prominence through its own production of technology-based vaccines and treatments. In New Bahia
Vaccine against covid-19
that uses the platform, by scientists from Senai Cimatec, which is undergoing clinical trials.
In 2021, Bio-Manguinhos, from Fiocruz, was selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of a global selection to encourage the creation of mRNA vaccines. In addition to developing a new covid-19 vaccine with the technology, the institute is looking at treatments for cancer and prevention of other diseases.
“We’ve been working with mRNA technology for a few years and have mainly focused on therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer, but with the pandemic we also started developing our own mRNA vaccine for covid-19, which is being tested. This technology has been being tested in studies for decades, But it took that leap with the health crisis and proved to be very effective.We now hope to get similar positive results with other diseases, said Bio-Manguinhos’ Deputy Director of Technology Development, Sotiris Mycelides.
The high expectations involving messenger RNA are due to several factors. The first is the method of representation. Basically, it is a code that contains instructions for the body’s cells to produce a specific protein.
In the case of covid-19 vaccines, instead of introducing the inactivated virus or part of the immune system into the immune system to produce defenses, the organism’s mRNA uses itself as a “factory” for the coronavirus S protein, which the body then reads to produce defense cells and antibodies.
“Without a doubt, mRNA has revolutionized the science of vaccines, because, through a code, you can lead the individual who receives the vaccine to produce their own protein. This is a revolution because it allows us to produce proteins against anything, and then antibodies against some diseases, the proteins that make tumors “Degenerative diseases are useless. In theory, the technology is viable for diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, not just infectious diseases. It’s hope for many other diseases for which we either don’t have a vaccine or we need better alternatives,” says infection specialist and association director Brazilian fortifications (SBIm), Renato Kfoury.
He says that since 1990, the platform has been studied, but was considered unstable in tests. The situation changed in 2005, when a team of American researchers developed lipid capsules called liposomes, which surround mRNA and are able to fully enter it into the body.
One of the scientists responsible for the discovery even wrote an article in the scientific journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, in 2018, titled “mRNA Vaccines – A New Era in Vaccines,” listing a series of studies with promising results from the technology.
In addition to the broad potential, mRNA vaccines have shown superior efficacy to conventional models and have the potential to be manufactured at a lower cost. This is because, since the platform is synthetic and does not include live viruses, it does not require, for example, a biosafety laboratory. In addition, they could be developed and adapted more quickly, making it possible for Covid-19 inhibitors to start clinical trials less than six months after Sars-CoV-2 was discovered in China in 2019.
One of the most anticipated results of the new generation of vaccines that have begun testing is that of the new generation of vaccines
Immunization against HIV.
This year, Moderna — the pharmaceutical company built with a focus on mRNA and responsible for one of its covid-19 vaccines — began phase one clinical trials with some candidates. Studies using an immunization device for Nipah Haniba virus (NiV), a highly lethal animal pathogen that causes occasional outbreaks of disease in humans in India and Bangladesh, are also in Phase I.
However, this shouldn’t be the next time you’re out of paper. The lab is also running tests with a vaccine for Zika virus, which is already in the second stage, and for a new version of the immunizing agent against the influenza virus that causes influenza, which is in the third stage.
There are also studies of combined versions of the influenza vaccine with the covid-19 vaccine and protection against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a microorganism that causes a large number of hospitalizations and deaths in young children and cannot yet be controlled with vaccinations.
Production potential in Brazil
Missailidis, of Fiocruz, highlights that although production of vaccines using the new technology begins primarily in foreign countries, Bio-manguinhos may eventually become independent in the manufacture of mRNA therapeutics.
“Our biggest problem has been the ability to develop new technologies without relying on the United States and Europe and the countries that usually deliver products first and then transfer the technology. And the effort we’re doing right now is to change that paradigm. And we can use mRNA for rare diseases, neglected diseases, which often It’s not the big pharmaceutical companies’ concern, but the mission of Vucrose, as a public enterprise, to be able to serve this part of the population,” says Deputy Director of Technology Development for Bioanimals.
Fiocruz’s new immune system for covid-19 mRNA, which is supposed to start clinical trials early next year, is also distinguished by the discrepancy in triggering the immune response not only with the S protein of the coronavirus, but also with N. Sotiris, the protein is conserved The second is larger, so it is expected to offer greater immunity to protect against new variants.
There is also technology development by Senai Cimatec, in Bahia, in partnership with HDT Bio Corp, of the United States. Infectious disease specialist and lead researcher with the institution, Roberto Badaro, who is leading the research, explains that the mRNA vaccine also uses unprecedented nanoparticles capable of protecting the molecule and increasing uptake in the body, and celebrates the project as an important step towards the platform field in Brazil.
“Today we have the capacity to manufacture this vaccine here in Brazil, and we have integrated this technology there at Senai Cimatec and we are finishing the first phase studies. This platform is a huge revolution, so we are very excited that Brazil will have a competitive participation in the international scenario of a modern vaccine,” says Badaro.
He says there is an immunization device with technology that is also being tested against leishmaniasis, a disease caused by a protozoan and transmitted by mosquitoes, which can be very fatal if left untreated.
“Thousands of people get leishmaniasis in Brazil and Latin America, which is a disfiguring disease that, when it affects the nasal mucosa, destroys the nose, and it is a serious disease, but it does not get much attention because it is tropical. The technology will help us make several other vaccines against other diseases” , adds the infection specialist.
A new weapon against cancer
Badaró, of Senai Cimatec, says there are still therapeutic vaccines in development at the foundation for breast, prostate and ovarian cancer, which should gain momentum after the end of testing with the immune system for Covid-19. Ramon Andrade de Mello, an oncologist and professor at the University of Novi (Unenov) in São Paulo, explains that fighting tumors is actually one of the great promises of technological progress.
“The expectation for the use of mRNA in the treatment of cancer is very high. There are studies with very promising results of using technology so that the body itself produces proteins that work with the immune system to fight cancer in a more effective way,” explains the specialist, who is part of the clinical staff at Albert Einstein Hospital, too. in Sao Paulo.
This is because cancer develops a protein called checkpoint inhibitor, which tells the body that these cells are healthy, even though they are cancerous — preventing the immune system from fighting the tumor. However, the oncologist explains that using mRNA, it will be possible to teach defense cells to recognize such a protein, and then begin to attack it.
In June 2021, BioNTech — which developed one of the vaccines for Covid-19 with Pfizer — announced that it had treated the first patient with an mRNA vaccine against melanoma during phase two clinical studies.
“About 20 years ago, cancer treatment was largely focused on chemotherapy, but in the past decade, new technologies have changed the answer to the problem. More and more, we’re getting better results and closer to a potential cancer treatment, though. It’s a complex road. To get there. Therefore, the development of new therapies, such as mRNA, is essential. And I think in 5 to 10 years we will have a platform built into clinical guidance. It’s definitely a technology worth the attention and investment,” says the oncologist.
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