Researchers at Stanford University sequenced the RNA components of the initial Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, then posted the two-page-long sequences in their entirety on GitHub.
One of the few good things out of this pandemic was that urgency of the matter fast-tracked RNA-based vaccines, which could end up being far cheaper and quicker to make than traditional vaccines.
Unlike a normal vaccine, RNA vaccines work by introducing an mRNA sequence (the genetic molecule which instructs cells what to build) which is coded for a specific antigen. Once produced within the body, the antigen is recognized by the immune system, preparing it to fight the real thing. In the case of COVID, the antigen is the coronavirus spike protein, which it uses to attach itself to cells and infect people.
Besides COVID, mRNA vaccines could prove more effective against other rapidly evolving pathogens like influenza, Ebola, Zika, HIV, and even cancers.
Although RNA vaccines can be designed and produced much faster than conventional vaccines that contain inactivated disease-causing organisms or proteins made by the pathogen, the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech still required a huge effort to bring to market. And now a team of researchers from Stanford have posted the two vaccines’ genetic sequences online.
They used samples left in used vials that were supposed to be discarded after vaccine shots were portioned for immunization. Instead of throwing them into the bin, the Stanford scientists prepared and sequenced the RNA in the samples with FDA authorization for research use.
“Sharing of sequence information for broadly used therapeutics has the benefit of allowing any researchers or clinicians using sequencing approaches to rapidly identify such sequences as therapeutic-derived rather than host or infectious in origin,” wrote the researchers in a document describing their procedure on GitHub.
The Stanford researchers added that anyone with access to their hardware could data-mine and filter the genetic sequences in these vaccines. Previously, another group used publicly available information about the Pfizer-BioNTech information to figure out its RNA sequence.
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Having the mRNA code used in novel vaccines currently being rolled out to millions of people is like having access to the code of open source software. It means anyone can study the code and perhaps improve on it.
However, simply having access to this genetic sequence doesn’t mean you can make the vaccine at home. The manufacturing process is quite elaborate and involves hundreds of steps and machinery that costs hundreds of millions of dollars.Popular in the CommunityAdChoicesSponsoredNovel microscopy technique shows cell nucleus rotatingCarlosMaurerThis report is embarrassing. The superficiality of the data presented is obvious and, I assume, deliberate. Go study the concentrations of CO2 in the centuries before ours and learn first-hand that the capacity of this gas to cause a mild greenhouse effect practically disappears at 400 ppm. Also have the honesty to look into the upcoming Milankovitch cycle which will significantly lower Earth’s atmosphere for the next 80,000 years. I can only hope that humanity has the honesty to see CO2 as the the wonderful gas it is, and that we would be much better off if we had -not 400 ppm, but ideally tan times that. If your really love felines, more CO2 in our atmosphere would be much better for them that our measly current concentration of only 400 ppm.Top CommentTop CommentDiamond battery powered by nuclear waste runs for 28,000 yearsstan*part* of this story is bs. These batteries exist, they are legit, but they will NEVER charge your iphone. These devices put out a few MICROwatts per gram of radioactive graphite. Wireless chargers are 5-10 watts, meaning you would need a battery with literally a metric TON of radioactive waste to put out the same power. These batteries would be great for things that need a constant, long lasting, low power source. Milliwatts at the max.Top CommentTop Comment15What is pain, and why do we even need it?Cheryle DobbynGood article.I have a question related to ‘pain’. What is an itch, why and how? I have done some bit of googling, but it would be fun to read your take on itchy spots.Top CommentTop Comment1This satellite can take crystal clear anytime anywhere — even through buildingsmogeking56We need to get one to Saturn lickety-split I am intrigued about what Saturn look like and what it is hiding. Their is gold in them there hills.Top CommentTop CommentA prolific French academic, author of hundreds of papers, doesn’t exist. She’s a form of protestGSrikanth”… research is a collaborative process, not one where individual ‘stars’ advance fields and ideas on their own.” ; aptly said. Many cultures have the habit of making stars by attributing contributions of many to one; which shows up in all aspects of society. It is not to deny existence of individual brilliance; only small number number of made-out -stars have that attribute. May be author’s list should contain name of group (xyz laboratory, abc centre) rather than containing individual’s names (unless it is truly solo work) and corresponding email ID should be that of group.Top CommentTop CommentReading this? The odds are your consumer habits are causing the loss of 4 trees per yearRuth SSome consumers may ‘think’ about the downsides of their consumption but likely won’t act. Why not a compaign to enact a law that ensures that distributers and growers replant trees?Top CommentTop Comment