The Science and Biology
of mRNA Biomedical Technology

How does mRNA function?

mRNA (messenger RNA) instructs the body to produce proteins which can treat or prevent disease or infections. mRNA medicines are mRNA molecules that are packaged (encapsulated) in lipid nanoparticles and delivered directly into cells to make proteins to treat or prevent disease or infections by pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 and emerging “Variants of Concern”.

Fundamental biology of life

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a double-stranded molecule that stores the genetic instructions for all life on earth. DNA  enables the body’s cells to make proteins via RNA (ribonucleic acid) which is derived naturally from DNA. Nearly every function in the body – both normal and disease-related – is a result of one or more proteins.

mRNA enables expression of DNA into proteins

mRNA enables the genetic code of DNA to be used naturally in a process known as protein synthesis. mRNA is the single-stranded molecule that carries genetic code from DNA in a cell’s nucleus to the ribosome, which is the center of protein synthesis in the cell.

How mRNA enables protein synthesis

  1. mRNA Transcription. A copy of a DNA sequence is generated naturally into mRNA. The mRNA migrates from the nucleus of the cell to the cytoplasm, which houses ribosomes. 
  2. The Ribosome. Nature’s factory in the cell that is responsible for making proteins from mRNA.
  3. mRNA Translation. The ribosome translates the mRNA into a protein with amino acids which are the building blocks of protein.
  4. Protein Function. The expressed protein functions in the cell or the body, naturally.

Over the past 60 years, scientists have learned how to use mRNA to develop a new category of medicines which have recently been proven to be transformative for preventing infection and disease in the COVID-19 pandemic

Timeline of some key milestones for mRNA and lipid nanoparticle development.

NORVAX UK, with the mRNA UCV Consortium and Norsk Vaksinefabrikk, is leveraging the fundamental role that mRNA plays in protein synthesis to develop the mRNA Universal Coronavirus Vaccine (mRNA UCV) for the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 disease. NORVAX UK and the mRNA UCV Consortium are “programming” the harmless “spike” portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for the planned manufacturing into mRNA molecules with encapsulation into Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), for an mRNA UCV product, to stimulate immunity in the event of SARS-CoV-2 infection by so-called “Variants of Concern” including the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta. Industrial scale production of mRNA UCV is planned to be delivered by Norsk Vaksinefabrikk by Norvax AS in 2022/23.