Messenger RNA technology shows promise for de

Messenger RNA technology shows promise for de

  • Technology
  • July 7, 2022
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Delivery of unmodified mRNA lipid nanoparticles encoding multiple poxvirus-targeted monoclonal antibodies in rabbits

image: Digital color electron micrograph shows monkeypox virus infection in the titanium liver cell of a previously published study. Viral particles are shown in red, mitochondria in green, lipids in yellow, nuclei in blue green, and cell cytoplasm in blue. Insertion of viral particles with hyphens (top right) enlarged to show details (bottom right).
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Credit: Study: USAMRIID / Mucker et al. Image: Janice Williams, Ph.D.

Army scientists and industry partners were among the first to show that messenger RNA (mRNA), the technology recently used in COVID-19 and other vaccines, could also be used to develop treatments for infectious diseases. His work appears in the June 2022 issue of the journal Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acidspublished by Cell Press.

Researchers from the U.S. Army’s Infectious Diseases Medical Research Institute (USAMRIID) collaborated in the study with scientists from CureVac, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing a new class of drugs based on MRNA. Its central principle is to use mRNA as a data carrier for information that the body can use to produce its own therapeutic, effectively preventing disease.

The team set out to examine the capabilities of nucleic acid technology apart from vaccine development. To demonstrate the proof of concept, they used several mRNAs that carried the “plan” of three separate monoclonal antibodies (mAbs): proteins that help produce an immune response. According to lead author Eric Mucker, Ph.D., when mRNAs were administered to the same rabbit, all three mAbs were shown to circulate in the blood in just one day.

“We are pleased that with this project we have been able to show, for the first time, significant systemic levels of functional antibodies transcribed from an mRNA after intramuscular injection,” said Patrick Baumhof, senior vice president of technology at CureVac. “The possibility of simultaneous expression of three different antibodies within the same animal shows the potential of mRNA antibody technology.”

The work was funded by the ADEPT: PROTECT program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which aims at early detection and rapid response to disease outbreaks.

“This study and similar projects conducted under the ADEPT: PROTECT program were really innovative,” Mucker said, adding that they laid the groundwork for mRNA vaccines years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In particular, the three mAbs tested in the study had also previously demonstrated some potential activity against poxviruses, making the publication of this work especially timely in light of simultaneous monkeypox outbreaks occurring throughout the world. world.

“USAMRIID has an extensive history of developing models, tools, and countermeasures to combat smallpox and monkeypox diseases,” commented USAMRIID lead author Jay Hooper, Ph.D. “While this study is primarily based on technology, it specifically contributes to future generation countermeasures to prevent and treat diseases caused by pathogenic poxviruses.”

About the U.S. Army Infectious Diseases Medical Research Institute:

Since 1969, USAMRIID has provided cutting-edge medical capabilities to deter and defend itself against current and emerging biological threat agents. The Institute is the only Department of Defense laboratory equipped to safely study highly dangerous viruses that require maximum containment at the biosafety level 4. Research conducted at USAMRIID leads to vaccines, drugs, diagnoses, and training programs that they protect both combatants and civilians. The Institute’s unique scientific and technological base serves not only to address current threats to our Armed Forces, but is an essential element in the medical response to any future biological threat that our nation may face. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. For more information, visit


Delivery of unmodified mRNA lipid nanoparticles encoding multiple monoclonal antibodies targeting poxvirus in rabbits: Eric M Mucker, Carolin Thiele-Suess, Patrick Baumhof, and Jay W Hooper. Molecular Acids Mol Ther. May 10, 2022; 28: 847-858.

DOI: 10.1016 / j.omtn.2022.05.025

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! is not responsible for the accuracy of news releases published on EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or by the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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