A group of researchers from Stanford University made a singular decision this week: publish the sequence of Moderna’s mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 on GitHub.
This milestone is significant, especially in a segment such as pharmaceuticals, where this type of information is usually an absolute treasure. The problem? That although it is very interesting to be able to access this data, that does not mean that now anyone can make vaccines at home. The reality there is very different, and only a few companies are capable of doing it.
To make vaccines at home, nothing
There it is, on GitHub, available to everyone. Not one, but two mRNA sequences of the BNT-162b2 (BioNTech / Pfizer) and mRNA-1273 (Moderna) vaccines that have been developed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
MRNA vaccines have been researched for years, but now is the time they have raised a real revolution. These vaccines deliver genetic information with which our cells are capable of making a viral protein.
By doing so, our immune system is activated to fight against this protein, something that allows to “train” this system to fight against the coronavirus if in the end we turn out to be infected. Although the mRNA sequence quickly disintegrates, the antibodies remain there, prepared as a line of defense against potential contagion.
The mRNA sequences published by these researchers they are something like the source code of the vaccine, and next to it are two pages in which this group explains their reasons for publishing them.
The most relevant, they explain, is to “allow pharmacists and researchers use sequencing approaches to quickly identify these sequences as derived from therapeutic treatments, and not as infectious in origin “.
The experts warn, of course, of something important: having these sequences available does not make anyone can now start making vaccines from home.
The chain of processes and components required to manufacture these vaccines is enormous, and requires highly specialized facilities and also the combination of mRNA and lipids between lipid nanoparticles that only a few hundred experts around the world know how to perform.