Decades of research were fruitful. mRNA vaccines have already made a big difference for humanity and will certainly bring a series of useful solutions, therapies and other vaccines. We have entered the age of mRNA technologies, this is their moment and they share the spotlight with CRISPR and CAR-T/TCR technologies. Unfortunately, even though it’s an important molecule, it doesn’t yet have its own emoji, like DNA.

1. mRNA technology is based on informative RNA, nucleic acid, an organic compound that exists naturally in all of us and all beings.

2. Informational ribonucleic acid or messenger ribonucleic acid, in our country it is abbreviated as mRNA or gRNA. In English, the name for this molecule is messenger ribonucleic acid, so the abbreviation will be mRNA.

3. iRNA/mRNA molecules are “transcripts” of a genetic message on DNA for the synthesis of a protein. These are the instructions for how protein or peptide subunits, called amino acids, will be linked together in a chain.

4. The mRNA/mRNA itself is a chain composed of smaller components. That’s why we call proteins and nucleic acids, which includes this molecule, polymers. “Poli” means “many” and “mer” means “part”.

5. Informational RNA – mRNA/iRNA could be used for medical purposes, as genetic information for the synthesis of a specific protein within the organism itself. It is smaller and easier to change and adapt than a DNA molecule. Proteins that would be synthesized using RNA can be antigens, which cause an immune reaction, on which the immune system is “trained”, they can be different immunoglobulins-antibodies, which neutralize antigens, but also any other protein that could have medical value. For example, insulin or some peptides (shorter chains of amino acids). So, mRNA technology, in addition to being used for making vaccines, could also be used for therapies.

6. iRNA/mRNA was discovered back in 1961.

7. Since then, until today, many scientists have worked on the research of this molecule, its structure and function, and the development of mRNA treatment technologies and vaccines.

8. More than 30 scientists have so far received Nobel prizes related to RNA research. For various RNA research, Nobel Prizes were awarded to François Jacob, Jacques Monod, Robert W. Holley, Har Gobind Khorana, Marshall Nirenberg, David Baltimore, Renato Dulbecco, Howard Temin, Philip Sharp, Richard Roberts, Andrew Fire, Craig Mello, Roger Kornberg… and this is not the final list of Nobel laureates related to RNA, and there will certainly be more.

9. In order for an mRNA molecule to be used as a therapy or vaccine, it must be protected. It is unstable and should be packed “in a protective bubble” and kept at low temperatures until use, so that it does not degrade.

10. These protective bubbles are made of molecules of certain fats. Some of them, such as cholesterol and lecithin, are found naturally in the membrane of our cells. Some, which additionally stabilize the bubble, are synthetic. We call these bubbles liposomes, lipid nanoparticles. In English – lipid nanoparticles or abbreviated LNP.

11. Some of the scientists who contributed to the development of mRNA technology, and thus the vaccine against COVID-19, are: Uğur Şahin, Özlem Türeci, Robert Malone, Philip Felgner, Douglas Melton, Katalin Karikó, Drew Weissman and Kizzmekia Corbett.

12. The first mRNA vaccines against COVID19 were given in December 2020.

13. The first person to receive an mRNA vaccine beyond clinical trials was Margaret Keenan from the United Kingdom, who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 8, 2020. She was 91 years old at the time.

14. Moderna is currently developing mRNA vaccines against heart failure and cancer, as well as better vaccines against influenza, SARS, MERS, respiratory syncytial virus, and malaria. In 2023, Novartis is working on as many as 11 types of mRNA that could be used for vaccines or therapies, and other pharmaceutical companies have similar research.



Jelena Kalinić, MA in comparative literature and graduate biologist, science journalist and science communicator, has a WHO infodemic manager certificate and Health metrics Study design & Evidence based medicine training. Winner of the 2020 EurekaAlert (AAAS) Fellowship for Science Journalists. Short-runner, second place in the selection for European Science journalist of the year for 2022.