The mRNA vaccine design effective against the COVID virus also shows promise in battling multiple sclerosis (MS), a complicated condition in which the body’s immune system peels away the protein sheath surrounding nerve fibers, causing them to short-circuit.
Traditional vaccines carry a fragment of a hostile virus or a weak version of the whole bug, so a person’s immune system can build up antibodies without having to fight the actual disease.
In contrast, mRNA vaccines “infect” the body’s immune system cells with instructions to manufacture the protein structure that makes an invading virus identifiable, such as the spike on the surface of coronavirus cells.
Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is a cell’s instruction plan for a specific protein; one mRNA structure makes one protein, a different mRNA makes another.
mRNA vaccines also deliver a double blow to infections: they coax the immune system to make antibodies against the specific invader and also to make T-cells, the immune system’s ninjas in fighting dangerous viruses.
After creating a COVID mRNA virus with Pfizer, the German BioNTech pharma company tested a different mRNA version in mice genetically altered to develop a condition analogous to MS in humans.
The new vaccine eased symptoms in the afflicted mice and halted the disease’s progress in animals showing early stages of the condition.
Typically, MS is treated by drugs that suppress the body’s entire immune system, leaving patients vulnerable to infections.
The scientists theorize that the vaccine taught the immune system to tolerate the nervous system’s myelin sheath without turning off its ability to recognize and combat foreign invaders.
TRENDPOST: With success against MS, mRNA vaccines may be able to be tweaked to moderate or halt other autoimmune conditions, such as arthritis. The new mRNA design also is being tested as a treatment or cure for cancer and other major diseases and could be the foundation for a broad new medical arsenal against degenerative illness.

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