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With mRNA vaccine, India will have flexibility against COVID-19: Scientist

By Shalini Bhardwaj | Updated: May 16, 2022 14:43 IST

New Delhi [India], May 16 (ANI): Dr N Madhusudan Rao, CEO-Atal Incubation Centre at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) on Monday said that India has developed mRNA technology against the COVID-19.
He said that the mRNA platform has an advantage of flexibility which isn't with other vaccine platforms.
The Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) recently announced the development of the country's first potential mRNA vaccine candidate to fight against SARS-CoV-2, stating that it has an advantage of flexibility which isn't with other vaccine platforms.
The mRNA technology is a messenger RNA, a copy of DNA sequence, and is a blueprint to make a protein. In mRNA vaccine, the mRNA carries the sequence information of spike protein. This mRNA is encapsulated in lipid formulation and injected into the body. In the body cells, it makes the spike protein, which stimulates protective antibodies to fight the coronavirus.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Dr Rao, a lead Scientist of the mRNA platform, said, "We have mRNA technology against the COVID, we can say this. The west was using only mRNA vaccine for the pandemic, but somehow it never got to other countries."
Dr Rao further explained that in the context of COVID-19 where there is a constant shift of variant of concerns mRNA vaccine is quickly redesigned.
"...especially makes more sense in the context of COVID where there is a constant shift of the variants of concern. During a previous vaccine and COVID seems to be less effective and then people get worried. So, this platform gives you an opportunity to quickly rehash your platform to the new variant in a very short time. Other conventional platforms have a more, a bit longer turnaround time to adapt to the new variants, but this one does which is a major advantage," he said.
He also said that these vaccines are cost-effective. "The second advantage is the cost of infrastructure. You can come up with the same million kinds of numbers of doses in a much smaller setup. The flexibility and the lower input costs set us to go for it and we basically want to demonstrate that we can do it," Dr Rao added.
The vaccine platform holds promise for many infectious diseases that India centric like malaria or dengue or tuberculosis.
"We also know this particular platform is very useful for other diseases, especially ones that are India centric, like malaria or dengue or tuberculosis because this was not a tested platform before COVID in a big public way. It was there on the anvil for a long time. But the point here is, it was never given to the people," Dr Rao said.
On Gennova pharma company using mRNA COVID vaccine, he said, "When you think about the kind of vaccine the Gennova is developing, it has not been introduced so far. Gennova is the first company that is wedded to phase three trials in collaboration with a US company, called HDT. So, their technology is called self-amplifying mRNA, which broadly belongs to mRNA kind of basic technologies, but it is not what Moderna or Pfizer did."
He said the technique for mRNA that India used is similar to the Moderna company.
"Ours is a kind of a replication of Moderna and we are not anywhere similar to what Gennova is doing," he said.
"There's one more requirement called an animal challenge studies. In challenge studies, we do it in the animals and give formulation and look at how the actual virus has been utilised. Those studies are going on. We may have these results in a month. So, that data would come in a month or so that time more companies may be more than satisfied to take this forward," Dr Rao said about private companies showing interest in the technology. (ANI)