THE first vaccines against Covid-19 aren’t just a landmark in the fight against the pandemic. They’re also the stepping stone for an unconventional technology that could one day defeat other ailments that have eluded doctors, from cancer to heart disease.
The shots from Moderna and a partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech use genetic material called messenger RNA to effectively transform the body’s own cells into vaccine factories. The approach had never been used outside of clinical experiments, and just how well it worked against the coronavirus stunned even some of its most enthusiastic backers.
Now, with one vaccine having gained US clearance and the other close behind, the pandemic validation could wrench open a whole new field of medicine.
“We are now entering the age of mRNA therapeutics,” said Derrick Rossi, a former Harvard University stem-cell biologist who helped found Moderna in 2010.