India develops first mRNA vaccine technology to fight Covid-19

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India’s first indigenous mRNA (Messenger RNA) vaccine technology to fight against Covid-19 has been developed by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research (CSIR).

Among the leading vaccine technologies available today to fight Covid-19, mRNA vaccines are among the best.

The world witnessed the power of the first mRNA vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic. Vaccines work by training our immune system to identify disease-causing microorganisms and eliminate them quickly when they encounter them subsequently.

This is achieved with mRNA vaccine technology by introducing an mRNA of the micro-organism of concern.

This mRNA in the host cells gives rise to the microbial protein or a part of it, which trains the immune system to evade it when the real infection happens with the same live microorganism.

CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) is leading the development of mRNA vaccine technology in India.

It has now announced the development of a potential mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.

The mRNA vaccine technology is indigenous and devoid of any technology contributions from elsewhere. The team at the Atal Incubation Centre-CCMB (AIC-CCMB) led the development of the vaccine candidate.

“We observed robust immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in mice, upon administration of two doses of the mRNA. The anti-Spike antibodies generated were found to be more than 90% efficient in preventing the human ACE2 receptor binding to the coronavirus,” said Dr Rajesh Iyer, a scientist involved in the project.

Currently, the mRNA vaccine candidate is undergoing preclinical challenge studies to evaluate its efficacy to protect against live virus infection.


“The current war with COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light many vaccine technologies, and India’s vaccine programme is highly lauded. However, we lack the potent mRNA vaccine technology, as developed by Moderna or Pfizer/BioNtech to combat COVID-19 in the U.S.A and Europe. The developed technology is different from the mRNA vaccine being developed by Gennova Bio, which is based on self-replicating RNA,” said Dr Madhusudhana Rao, CEO, AIC-CCM.

He added that the AIC-CCMB team were able to establish mRNA vaccine technology and develop a home-grown mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 in less than a year since the inception of the project.

Even though Covid-19 is waning, the vaccine platform holds promise for many infectious diseases that India faces.

“This is a proof-of-principle wherein we have shown that we can replicate the mRNA vaccine technology end-to-end. The beauty of this technology is in its modularity and rapid turn-around times. That means with significantly less efforts, the developed technology can be used to sire vaccines for other infectious diseases like dengue, tuberculosis or malaria,” said Dr Vinay Nandicoori, Director, CCMB.

He also added that CSIR, the largest research and development organisation in the Ministry of Science and Technology, India, has taken prescient initiatives to establish capacities within India in modern health technologies as part of its program on self-reliance.


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