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This looks promising: an RNA-based vaccine effective against any strain of a virus and works for those with weakened immune system (babies, immunocompromised). “This could be the universal vaccine that we have been looking for.”

Discussion  3 comments

Paolo Palombo

I sure hope this lives up to the promise.

Jason KottkeMOD

I wanted to note this is a university press release that links to a paper in a peer-reviewed, so grain of salt and all that. That's why I called it "promising" and not "amazing" or "a breakthrough".

David Loehlin

The high-level concept is good - use RNA interference to fight viruses, rather than the adaptive immune system. I am not an immunologist but my sense is this is a dark-horse research program based on sound molecular biology principles.

The concept presented in the paper is an "attenuated virus" vaccine rather than an mRNA vaccine. They delete the viral gene, B2, that normally suppresses RNAi. Mice inoculated with live mutant virus then gets shredded by the RNAi pathway, and this provides lasting protection (siRNAs) against the non-mutant virus. The paper presents evidence that this works in mice with mutationally inactivated immune systems, providing evidence that viral suppression occurs via the RNAi system.

Antiviral RNAi has been known for a long time in insects and plants. I am not an immunologist so don't understand why the post-1998 boom in RNAi research did not result in this kind of advance, or if there are other practical barriers.

I was actually just looking for papers on this topic a few weeks ago for a class I'm teaching and had a hard time finding anything -- so thanks for posting this!

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