Skip to Content
MIT News: 77 Mass Ave

Making RNA vaccines more powerful

A new approach that strengthens the immune response could lead to intranasal vaccines for covid-19 and other diseases.

January 4, 2024
""
Jose-Luis Olivares

MIT researchers have tweaked the design of mRNA-based covid-19 vaccines to produce a stronger immune response at a lower dose. They believe the technique might be applied to other RNA vaccines in development, including vaccines for cancer, and could make intranasal vaccination feasible.

The researchers used two strategies to boost the immune response. First, they engineered the mRNA to encode a protein called C3d, which binds to antigens and amplifies the antibody response to them. Next, the researchers modified the lipid nanoparticles used to carry the RNA into cells so that they stimulate immunity themselves instead of just delivering the vaccine. 

Mice injected with this vaccine produced 10 times more antibodies than mice given older covid vaccines, and it seemed to produce a similar response when delivered intranasally. 

“With intranasal vaccination, you might be able to kill covid at the mucous membrane, before it gets into your body,” says chemical engineering professor Daniel Anderson, the senior author of the study. “Intranasal vaccines may also be easier to administer to many people, since they don’t require an injection.” And because the modified vaccines are effective at a lower dose, they could be less expensive, which might also increase their use. 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

How scientists traced a mysterious covid case back to six toilets

When wastewater surveillance turns into a hunt for a single infected individual, the ethics get tricky.

It’s time to retire the term “user”

The proliferation of AI means we need a new word.

The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.