The final results of the BioNTech vaccine were eagerly awaited, and today the German company reports success with the Corona vaccine. The Mainz-based company has been securing numerous patents for medical RNA treatment for many years – and has been successfully licensing them for years.
BioNTech reports success with the Corona vaccine!
According to a recent announcement today, BioNTech can report the final clinical trial phase for the Corona vaccine as a success: The Mainz-based company Biontech and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced today that their vaccine offers more than 90% protection against COVID-19. Serious side effects have not been registered.
An application for approval is to be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) starting next week. Biontech and Pfizer expect to be able to provide up to 50 million doses of the vaccine worldwide this year and up to 1.3 billion doses next year.
mRNA is the building instruction for proteins
The basis for this is the mRNA (short form for messenger RNA), which gives instructions for the production of proteins within human cells; the mRNA is the construction manual for protein production in our cell plasma.
In a natural process, our DNA in the cell nucleus writes these instructions into the mRNA (the DNA encodes the mRNA) and channels the mRNA produced in this way from the cell nucleus into the surrounding cell plasma. This happens with every cell division, i.e. constantly. An RNA-based vaccination such as the BioNTech vaccine introduces mRNA into the cell plasma from the outside by injection; any construction plan can be “written” on this mRNA in the laboratory beforehand.
Vaccine against corona from mRNA
The corona virus, on the other hand, is not without reason often illustrated as a spiky sphere. The Coroana Virus Covid-19 is actually surrounded by a spiky structure (English: spike) with which Covid-19 binds to certain receptors on the surface of our cells. This spiked structure also helps the virus to hide from our immune system.
Therefore, the BioNTech vaccine replicates the building instructions for such a spike-like Covid protein. Specifically, the building instructions for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are inserted into an mRNA modified in the laboratory. This modified mRNA can be injected as a BioNTech vaccine. Our cell then produces this SARS-CoV spike protein itself, but immediately recognises it as an intruder and threat. Therefore, an immune response is triggered immediately.
The tests so far have been promising, strong immune responses have been observed with good tolerability and – equally interesting – strong antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses have been generated.
In contrast to many classical vaccines, therefore, it is not the attenuated or killed pathogen that is injected, but only the genetic blueprint for the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. A nice side effect is that the mRNA completely dissolves again, but the vaccination effect remains.
Patents on mRNA vaccination against corona and COVID-19
A look at the international status of patents on mRNA treatments shows that BioNTech has positioned itself well in the competitive environment. Of the 110 or so patent families currently claiming processes and treatments involving mRNA, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Moderna and the two German companies BioNTech and CureVac together own almost half of all patent applications for mRNA treatments.
Stabilisation of mRNA is an important element
For more than 10 years, BioNTech AG has also been intensively involved in the stabilisation of mRNA. This is because mRNA is so short-lived that externally introduced mRNA would naturally not exist long enough to initiate the construction plan for proteins of pathogens – or pathogens of similar proteins – that we have brought along. It was therefore all the more important to first achieve a longer stabilisation of mRNA. The technology for this was of course patented by BioNTech and has also been licensed to other pharmaceutical manufacturers for years. These include multinational companies such as Sanofi SA and Genentech Inc.
In addition, BioNTech has secured a large number of other patents for the treatment and medical use of RNA and mRNA. This is because the vaccine against the corona virus is basically a nice side effect. Many research goals serve the use of medical RNA injection in cancer treatment. There, as well as in the form of a corona vaccine, it is hoped to achieve an effective treatment or immunisation without a stressful intervention in the human body.
The BioNTech vaccine candidate is called BNT-162b2
As a corona vaccine candidate, Biontech has focused on the mRNA vaccine BNT-162b2. This is the vaccine that was announced today as a successful vaccine against corona. More than 30,000 subjects were included in the decisive and final clinical trial phase. BNT162b2 is a nucleoside-modified mRNA (modRNA) vaccine candidate that encodes the SARS CoV-2 spike glycoprotein that is believed to trigger the immune response.
This mRNA vaccine candidate has generated strong immune responses in all clinical trials and in addition, strong antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses have been generated. The latter raises the hope that the BioNTech vaccine will also be able to generate immunity over a longer period of time.
This would certainly be a wish for all of us and of course for BioNTech and would be the success of years of innovative research – which BioNTech has secured for itself through many patent applications.
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