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Can an RNA vaccine (like that from Pfizer or Moderna) modify our DNA?


DNA vaccine

Naked DNA vaccines are one of the promising avenues of research in vaccinology. Unlike conventional vaccines, it is no longer a question of injecting antigens alone or carried by a bacterium, virus or protein, but of introducing directly into certain cells of the body (muscle cells in this case) the gene encoding the vaccine antigen. Result: the DNA enters the cell which will synthesize the antigen itself.

Simple and inexpensive, this technique has several advantages, including that of offering long-lasting antigen production, and therefore protection. It also avoids the risk of post-vaccine infection for immunocompromised individuals, a risk that exists with live attenuated vaccines.

However, it remains to ensure the safety of such a procedure, in particular, to assess the risk of integration of DNA into the cells of the body.

RNA vaccine

It has already been injected to over a million people in the UK. The vaccine created by the American-German alliance Pfizer / BioNtech, like that of its competitor the American Moderna, use the same technology. These are so-called “RNA” vaccines.

Such a vaccine consists of reproducing a small portion of the virus’s RNA, that is, a harmless piece of its genetic material. This portion of RNA will create spike proteins (the proteins by which the virus infects us) in the body of the vaccinated patient.

By inoculating it into the patient, the vaccine provides the body with a kind of instructions for making harmless little pieces of the virus, a kind of target for training. Thus, when the organism crosses the real virus subsequently, it will know how to defend itself against it.

The process is the same as for traditional vaccines, which do not use a genetic piece but a part of the virus itself or an inactivated virus. Many readers have worried whether these RNA vaccines can modify the DNA of patients who have been inoculated. Sciences et Avenir explains why this is impossible.

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RNA and DNA, what’s the difference?

RNA and DNA work in a complementary fashion to “build” our body, which is made up largely of protein. RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) both serve the purpose of making these proteins.

DNA is contained in the nucleus of cells. It cannot be directly translated into protein. It is first translated into RNA, which, outside the nucleus of the cell, can be translated into protein.



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