An incredible animation has shown in the most simplistic form possible how mRNA vaccines work to protect the body from Covid-19.
Developed by The Vaccine Makers Project, the video attracted fanfare across social media on Saturday where it was described as "spectacular".
The Vaccine Makers Project is a programme run by the Vaccine Education Centre at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the US.
In the video, it's explained how the coronavirus uses a protein on its surface to attach to and enter cells, causing a person's body to become sick.
The video shows that mRNA vaccines work by teaching the body how to make antibodies that fit onto the protein and block it from being able to attach and enter cells, thus avoiding or minimising illness.
The video details how the mRNA vaccine is wrapped in a layer of fat particles that protect it and help it get taken up by specialised cells of the immune system called dendritic cells.
Once it is inside these cells the mRNA, which does not enter the cell's nucleus or interact with DNA, stays in the cytoplasm with other mRNA molecules and waits to create the enzymes required by the body.
When ribosomes, located inside the cells, read the vaccine mRNA, pieces of the viral surface protein are made, and then these pieces are displayed on the surface of the dendritic cell.
The dendritic cell then makes its way to a nearby lymph node where it presents the surface proteins to other cells of the immune system.
At this point, some cells, called Helper T cells, train B cells how to make antibodies that fit perfectly onto the surface protein of the virus.
Other cells stimulated by the protein pieces, called cytotoxic T cells, can also kill virus infected cells.
All of these cells, armed with the creations of the mRNA vaccine, mean when a person becomes infected by Covid-19, their immune system will immediately recognise, neutralise, and destroy it.
This will unfold before the person even realises they have been infected.
Huge response to mRNA animation
British infectious diseases expert Dr Neil Stone said the short clip was "spectacular".
"Absolutely spectacular video showing how mRNA Covid vaccines actually work. The human immune system – and the science which went into harnessing it through vaccines – is mind blowingly beautiful," he wrote in a tweet.
Australia's Dr Karl Kruszelnicki also joined the chorus of positive feedback.
"Nice animation showing a small part of the incredible complexity of the immune system – in this case, of how mRNA vaccines stimulate production of protective antibodies," he wrote.
Nobel prize winner Professor Pete Doherty shared a similar sentiment.
"Great video of how mRNA vaccines work. Shows the mRNA from the vaccine go through the (blue) ribosome 'machine' as it makes the spike protein. That's all the mRNA does, it doesn't copy itself, or go into the nucleus or stick around!" he wrote.
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