Reverse-engineering the actual mRNA code of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, character for character:

@fribbledom Great article! Strongly recommended for any nerds who'd like scientific background on the Corona Vaccine of an entirely new kind of vaccines.

Amazing! I suppose the author assumes readers know how the immunisation works.

*my understanding* (please correct me if I'm wrong!):
The mRNA produces lots of spike proteins until it runs it of "A"s (some days?), then dies. So the immune system gets a strong signal without actual viruses or anything that could get out of hand, because it does not reproduce itself.

That looks eminently smart and safe!

@fribbledom It's fascinating how much biology and computer science have in common.

@fribbledom this is why mRNA vaccines are so exciting. The safety and effectiveness and ease of production of these vaccines can do wonders.

I hear people spreading FUD about the vaccine, saying it modifies DNA. That's not true at all. This is middle school biology...

In normal cellular processes, DNA gets transcripted to mRNA in the nucleus, then sent to the ribosomes to perform protein synthesis. With mRNA vaccines, we trick the cell to produce a protein which will get flagged by the immune system, and create immunity.

This is much safer then injecting vaccines of dead (or partially living) viruses into people. Especially with the things that have to be done to reproduce those viruses.

@charims @fribbledom Do have some good, accessible articles on this? I've written off the couple people I know who are more just straight-up anti-vaccine (period) but I also know people who are certainly "worried" due to "new technology" etc. and it would be good to have some quality articles to point then at instead of "seems pretty good to me"...

@meejah @fribbledom wikipedia has some pretty good articles on cellular protein synthesis and the mRNA transcription process.

As far as on the vaccine itself, this is part of the problem with the healthcare/scientific world. They write their articles in words only scientists would understand, then expect everyone to believe what they say without it being simplified for them. Needless to say, they created mRNA that can be read to produce the desired protein, and they enveloped it in a lipid sheath to get it past the cellular membrane into the cell.

We have similar problems in IT. People just want to feel safe and know that it works, and understand the high-level process.

@charims @fribbledom I think "science reporting" should take a lot of that blame, personally (which might indeed be what you mean above ;).
Scientists should do science; it's up to reporters to NOT just read the latest abstract and pretend that represents anything. Contextualize it. Tell me if this is "new, weird science that has no other support" or "yet another confirmation of a thing we've known/suspected all along" etc etc.

@charims Similar for IT stuff: breathlessly repeating the press-release about "the latest attack" seems to mostly have the effect of making people "give up" (there's attacks on everything, I can't do anything) instead of contextualizing what this actually, practically means for your phone's security (because often the answer is "no effect at all, this is just cool new math").

@meejah I remember my technical writing course in college. There's a reason you include the executive summary. The science paper synopsis though is not the same. The synopsis does not tell a decision maker anything, because they don't understand the jargon. The expected audience of a scientific journal is other scientists. Which is great! They need ways to communicate and share findings.

The problem comes when you have non-scientists interpreting scientific journals. If scientists want their work to not be misinterpreted, it would probably help quite a bit to write an executive summary. Executive summaries have to be short, free from jargon, and get to the point.

@charims @fribbledom @meejah
> people want to feel safe and know that it works

but in IT, most of the time it's not safe and only-sort-of-works...

@meejah @charims @fribbledom It's really easy to explain it to someone if you already understand it. To break it down, a cell has a nucleus that holds DNA, ribosome which is the factory and a bubble that keep everything inside.

When the cell needs new proteins, the nucleus sends a chunk of DNA to the ribosome. The DNA (mRNA) is like an old school paper tape, with a protein recipe encoded onto it.

@meejah @charims @fribbledom Imagine you're feeding the mRNA through the ribosome by turning a crank. Amino acids collect and sit on the mRNA, and through the processing of the machine, the amino acids are turned into a strand of protein.

So the way the vaccine works is, it's a chunk of mRNA that looks like it came from the nucleus. It arrives into the cell within a chunk of tasty fat (cells gotta eat too).

@meejah @charims @fribbledom It's very carefully encoded in such a way that it looks as unsuspicious as possible to our immune system. Once it gets processed a whole bunch of times by the ribosome, the proteins it produces strikingly resemble the spikes on the novel coronavirus.

When the immune system sees cells producing all these spikes, they assume that the body is under attack, and does what it needs to do to get things under control.

@meejah @charims @fribbledom After this, the immune system learns from this attack, and if it sees the novel coronavirus, it uses what it's learned from the vaccine and uses it to fight the virus far more effectively.

I hope this helps explain things in a much easier way than the article does.

I might have some of the details wrong. Please correct me if I do.

@charims @fribbledom
middle-school biology also teaches about reverse-transcription of RNA into DNA, as used eg. by retroviruses.

@wolf480pl @charims @fribbledom Some viruses don't even bother with that whole DNA thing. The Corona viruses are somewhat similar in many ways to that mRNA vaccine (only they encode many more amino acids and thus much more functionality).

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