RNA Vaccine is when a vaccine consists of messenger RNA that causes the immune system to respond to a specific virus. DNA Vaccine occurs when a vaccine consists of the DNA of a pathogen that will trigger an immune response.
What is an RNA vaccine?
RNA vaccines are made from parts of messenger RNA that can induce antibody production in people who receive the vaccine. RNA vaccines are derived from viral mRNA through a genetic engineering process. RNA vaccines are carried out in the form of liquid nanoparticles consisting of lipids. The potential of such a vaccine is huge, therefore, a lot of research is being carried out on the development of an RNA vaccine to combat COVID-19. The discovery of mRNA-1273 from coronavirus holds promise for the development of further RNA vaccines to stimulate antibody production.
The idea behind RNA vaccines is to trigger an immune response in which T lymphocytes are activated and the response is mounted against a specific viral disease. The mRNA sequence is the code for the disease antigen; An antigen is a protein which is then recognized by the immune system as foreign. Antibodies will then be produced by the body in response to these antigens.
The genetic code is already in the form of transcription for protein synthesis in the case of this vaccine. RNA vaccines are also believed by many scientists to be less risky than DNA vaccines because they will not affect the host’s DNA or even have to enter the nucleus of the host cell because the mRNA has already been formed. This also means the process of making antibodies is faster.
These technologies are relatively new and rely on nanotechnology, and so far none have been approved by the FDA for use in humans. A further disadvantage is that because only a portion of the viral mRNA can be utilized, the activated immune response may not be very strong. This means one needs to get boosters as often as possible to maintain a high level of immunity. RNA degradation is a concern and therefore more engineering is needed with added substances to protect the RNA and allow storage.
Research example: No RNA vaccine has yet been approved for use in humans, but research is ongoing into the use of RNA vaccination against HIV, cytomegalovirus, rabies, as well as COVID-19. There are already clinical trials testing the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines based on messenger RNA.
What is a DNA vaccine?
DNA vaccines use a genetically modified plasmid that contains a piece of DNA from a virus to activate an immune response. Vaccines are made using DNA from viruses that code for antigens. The antigen then elicits the formation of antibodies by a person’s body which helps if exposed to a virus designed for certain DNA vaccines.
Plasmids are used and modified to carry viral DNA. Plasmids are circular DNA from prokaryotic bacterial cells, which are used in genetic engineering in molecular biology. Plasmids are inserted into the person’s body when they are vaccinated.
Scientists have more knowledge and experience working with plasmids, so the process is somewhat easier compared to the nanotechnology involved in RNA vaccines. DNA is also less susceptible to degradation and more stable in the laboratory than RNA. This makes it easier and requires fewer steps for DNA extraction and storage compared to RNA.
Unlike confusing RNA vaccines, DNA vaccines only contain DNA. This means that an extra step is required to make an antigen because the mRNA must first be transcribed in the nucleus of the DNA. This means it takes longer to trigger an antibody response.
Research example: DNA vaccines have been investigated for use to treat the following diseases: malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, tuberculosis, and cancer. Currently, DNA vaccines have not been approved for use in humans, although several have been approved for use in animals.
Those are some of the differences between RNA and DNA vaccines. Hopefully this article is useful for you, thank you for visiting and don’t forget to share it with your friends too.