Hello, I’m Dr. Jeff Kingsley and welcome to another edition of Riding in Cars with Researchers. Let’s talk about vaccine research!
The vaccines that you and I have both received since childhood are derived from actual viruses or bacteria; they’re derived from the actual thing that infects people. And they come in two basic forms. One is a little bit safer than the other, but they’re both effective. Right now we are exploring an entirely new realm of vaccine research that is incredibly exciting, where we are in an era of genetics, the actual genetic code that could tell your body to make a very specific antibody to a very specific protein without you ever experiencing any exposure to the actual virus or bacteria. So in COVID-19 research right now, we are doing that.
How does DNA Play a Part?
We all remember learning about DNA in school – it’s our genetic code. And we also have RNA in our bodies. RNA reads the DNA, and then it shuttles it to the machinery in your body that can generate antibodies. The vaccine research we’re doing today is using messenger RNA. We are taking snippets of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and we’re taking very specific snippets of the genetic code for the spike protein so that your body will make antibodies not to the whole virus, not to random pieces of the virus, but very specifically to the piece that it uses to infect you.
And so in doing so, your body, in getting the vaccine, is never exposed to the entire virus. You’re never exposed to the whole thing! Fascinating area of research and super exciting! I love the research we’re doing right now, including the vaccine research we’re doing right now.
Thanks for riding along!
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