Using the technology that underlies our 2 main covid vaccines to solve other medical problems...

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#1 RShack


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Posted 25 May 2021 - 03:58 AM

RNA virus vectoring is the method that permitted scientist to develop both the Moderna and Pfizer covid vaccines.  The short story is that they now know how to encode a covid-related virus into RNA, which is useful because the RNA can bypass our normal defenses and get into our system.  This method is a scientific marvel that is basically a viral Trojan Horse for the medical good.  


What is so important and revolutionary about this method is that it is plug-and-play.  Once they know the genome of what they're trying to create a "medical virus" for, they can do it quickly.  For example, Moderna somehow had the genome for covid from the Chinese a few days before it was publicly released.  Once they had it, they created their covid vaccine in just a couple days, way back in January of 2020.  By the time we heard on the news that China had released the covid genome to the world's scientists, Moderna already had designed their covid vaccine.


There are many potential uses for this technology.  When you hear about "gene therapy" this is likely what they're talking about. Here's one example: Recently, the same basic Trojan Horse viral vector was used to inject a virus into a blind man's eyes.  He had been blind for decades due to a genetic disease that made his eyes not be able to see light... which means he's been totally blind and unable to see anything.  The disease not only had ruined the part of his eyes that see light, it also scrambled his rods and cones.  But after they injected his eyes with the viral vector they designed, it added light sensitivity to a part of the eye that normally doesn't have that.  That new capability was half the battle, as it compensated for the light-sensitive layer that his disease had ruined.  To restore the function normally performed by rods and cones, they created goggles that do a version of that sort of thing.  The combination of his newly light-sensitive eyes and his rods-and-cones goggles has partially restored his vision.  He can now see items on a table and reach out and touch them.


This is not what we would call decent vision.  But it is some initial version of vision for a blind guy who hasn't seen anything for decades.  The researchers are just getting started with this kind of thing.  They are no doubt a long ways from a moon-shot level solution that let's blind people see in a way that we would call decent vision.  We also wouldn't call the Wright Brothers' plane a decent airplane, but it was a very important start.  With RNA-based viral vectors, medical scientists are starting down the road of gene therapy... and the thing that's giving them the capability to go down that road is the same technology that underlies our 2 main versions of covid vaccine.  The amazing thing is not the vaccine itself but rather the technology that permits them to create helpful viruses inside RNA.  Just ask the blind guy who now can see just a little bit.  He's kinda-sorta like the guy who was the first one who the Wright Brothers allowed to fly their very primitive airplane for a couple hundred yards.  This guy can see just about as well as the Wright Brothers' first aeroplane could fly:  not very well.  But in both cases, we find an amazing start to something that will change the world we live in.   




Lab video:

 "The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second-class citizen to a second-class immortal." - Satchel Paige

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