'The Critical Contribution of Pseudouridine to mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines'; Morais et al.; N1-methyl-pseudouridine (adjusted from core backbone mRNA technology by Malone, Kariko, Weissman et al.)

by Paul Alexander

diminishes activity of key innate immune sensors (hides mRNA), improves translational capacity & increases protection of RNA from nucleases; mRNA technology can supress tumor suppressors TLR 7, 8 etc.


‘Two novel vaccine platforms, based on mRNA technology, were developed in 2020 by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Therapeutics (comirnaty® and spikevax®, respectively), and were the first ones presenting efficacies higher than 90%.


Both consisted of N1-methyl-pseudouridine-modified mRNA encoding the SARS-COVID-19 Spike protein and were delivered with a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulation.

Because the delivery problem of ribonucleic acids had been known for decades, the success of LNPs was quickly hailed by many as the unsung hero of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. However, the clinical trial efficacy results of the Curevac mRNA vaccine (CVnCoV) suggested that the delivery system was not the only key to the success. CVnCoV consisted of an unmodified mRNA (encoding the same spike protein as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's mRNA vaccines) and was formulated with the same LNP as Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine (Acuitas ALC-0315). However, its efficacy was only 48%.

This striking difference in efficacy could be attributed to the presence of a critical RNA modification (N1-methyl-pseudouridine) in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's mRNA vaccines (but not in CVnCoV). Here we highlight the features of N1-methyl-pseudouridine and its contributions to mRNA vaccines.’


‘Toll-like receptors (TLRs) represent a family of pattern recognition receptors that recognize certain pathogen-associated molecular patterns and damage-associated molecular patterns. TLRs are highly interesting to researchers including immunologists because of the involvement in various diseases including cancers, allergies, autoimmunity, infections, and inflammation.

After ligand engagement, TLRs trigger multiple signaling pathways involving nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), interferon-regulatory factors (IRFs), and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) for the production of various cytokines that play an important role in diseases like cancer. TLR activation in immune as well as cancer cells may prevent the formation and growth of a tumor.

Nonetheless, under certain conditions, either hyperactivation or hypoactivation of TLRs supports the survival and metastasis of a tumor. Therefore, the design of TLR-targeting agonists as well as antagonists is a promising immunotherapeutic approach to cancer. In this review, we mainly describe TLRs, their involvement in cancer, and their promising properties for anticancer drug discovery.’